By | MOSCOW
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has apologized to Russian leader Vladimir Putin over last year’s shooting down of a Russian air force jet by Turkey’s military, the Kremlin said on Monday, opening the way for Russia to lift economic sanctions.
The Russian jet was shot down, with the loss of the pilot, in November while it took part in the Kremlin’s military campaign in Syria. Ankara said it acted lawfully because the plane had crossed into Turkish air space; Moscow denied that happened.
“I want to once again express my sympathy and deep condolences to the family of the Russian pilot who died and I say: ‘I’m sorry,'” the Kremlin, in a statement, cited Erdogan as saying in the letter.
A spokesman for Erdogan, Ibrahim Kalin, confirmed the letter was sent to Putin, though he did not refer explicitly to an apology. He said that Erdogan, in the letter, had expressed regret and asked the family of the pilot to “excuse us.”
The Kremlin responded to the downing of the plane by slapping trade restrictions on Ankara — including freezing work on a pipeline to ship Russian gas to Europe via Turkey, and advising Russian tourists to avoid Turkish resorts.