Turkey sorry for downing Russian jet

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) has received a personal apology from his Turkish counterpart Erdogan (right), Moscow said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) has received a personal apology from his Turkish counterpart Erdogan (right), Moscow said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has apologised for the downing of a Russian military jet on the Turkey-Syria border, a Kremlin spokesman said.

Mr. Erdogan sent a message to President Vladimir Putin expressing “sympathy and deep condolences” to the family of the killed pilot, the spokesman said.

Turkey had angered Moscow by failing to apologise for the incident in November.

Russia responded by imposing trade sanctions and suspending Russian package tours to Turkey.

Mr. Putin said at the time the restrictions would not be lifted until Russia received an apology.

Mr. Erdogan spoke of his deep regret for what happened and said he wanted to restore relations, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“The letter states, in particular, that Russia is a friend to Turkey and a strategic partner, with which the Turkish authorities would not wish to spoil relations,” Mr. Peskov said.

Turkey has not yet commented on the Kremlin’s statement.

The Russian Su-24, an all-weather attack aircraft, was shot down by Turkish F-16s in the Turkey-Syria border area on 24 November.

The plane crashed in the mountainous Jabal Turkmen area of the Syrian province of Latakia, killing the pilot.

The navigator in the jet, Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin, survived the crash and was taken to Russia’s Hmeimim airbase in Latakia by Syrian government forces.

A Russian involved in a helicopter rescue attempt was also killed when the helicopter came under fire.

Turkey said planes were warned 10 times during five minutes via an “emergency” channel and asked to change direction.

The Russian defence ministry insisted that the aircraft remained within Syria’s borders throughout its mission and did not violate Turkish airspace and received no warnings.

-BBC

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