Erdogan apologises to Putin for downed Russian jet

Erdogan apologises to Putin for downed Russian jet
2 min read
27 June, 2016
Turkish President issues an apology to Moscow seven months after Turkish military jets downed a Russian unit for airspace infringements.
Erdogan has reached out to Putin just a day after Turkish talks with Israel [Anadolu]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologised on Monday for the downing of a Russian military jet in November, a Kremlin spokesman said.

The apology was sent via a direct message to President Vladimir Putin, expressing Erdogan's "sympathy and deep condolences" to the family of the fallen pilot.

Having not issued an apology at the time, the Turkish president sparked anger in Moscow, which reacted with trade sanctions and the suspension of holiday packages to Turkey.

Putin promised in the aftermath of the incident not to lift the sanctions until an apology was received.

"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," Russian government spokesman Dimitry Peskov said.

Last year, Turkey said it shot down the Russian Su-24 fighter jet after it violated Turkish airspace 10 times within a five minute period and was shot down by two Turkish F-16s.

Opposition activists in the Latakia countryside told The New Arab at the time that the Russian jet had crossed the Turkish border during a sortie over Jabal al-Zahia in the border region.

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.

Read More: What was Russia's airforce doing near Turkey's border anyway? 

Erdogan's gesture towards Moscow comes a day after the Turkish president began the process of normalising relations with Israel. The detente between Tel Aviv and Ankara marks a warming in relations six years after Israel attacked a Turkish boat bound for Gaza as part of an aid flotilla in international waters, killing Turkish citizens.