Ankara: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he is “sorry” for the downing of a Russian military jet on the Turkey-Syria border, last year, and that there was no deliberate intention in carrying out the attack, a Kremlin spokesman said.
Mr Erdogan sent a message to President Vladimir Putin saying “I am sorry” for the downing of a Russian jet last November, an incident Putin had called a “treacherous stab in the back.”
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the reporters that Erdogan expressed his “sympathy and deep condolences” to the family of the killed pilot and “asked to be forgiven.”
Last year in November 24, Turkish jets shot down a Russian bomber that Ankara said had crossed over from Syria, although Russia denied its plane had entered Turkish airspace. One of the two-man crew was killed by ground fire after parachuting out, and a
Russian marine was killed in the ensuing rescue mission.
President Bashar al-Assad sparked an unprecedented crisis in the two nations’ relations. Ankara had argued that the Russian plane strayed into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings, but Russia insisted it did not cross the border and accused Turkey of a “planned provocation.”
This incident sparked a bitter war of words between the two strongman leaders with Putin calling it a “stab in the back” and accusing Erdogan of involvement in the illegal oil trade with the Islamic State group.
Russia hit Turkey with a raft of sanctions, banning import of Turkish foodstuffs and stopping Russian package holidays to Turkey.
Mr Erdogan offered to meet Mr Putin in person but Moscow refused and the pair have not spoken to each other since.