Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has apologised to Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over Ankara’s downing of a Russian military jet last year that shattered ties, the Kremlin said on Monday.
“The head of the Turkish state in his message expressed his sympathy and deepest condolences to the family of the dead Russian pilot and said sorry,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
He added that Erdogan said he wanted to do “everything possible for the restoration of the traditionally friendly relations between Turkey and Russia.”
The Kremlin then released a statement citing Erdogan as saying Ankara “never had the desire and the intention” to down the Russian jet.
“I want to once again express my sympathy and deep condolences to the family of the dead Russian pilot and I say sorry,” the statement quoted Erdogan as saying.
Turkey’s downing in November of the warplane on its border with Syria — where Moscow is flying a bombing campaign in support of long-standing ally 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 Ankara of a “planned provocation.”
According to the Kremlin, Erdogan also said that authorities were probing a Turkish national allegedly responsible for the downing of the jet.