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Turkey should apologize for downing jet: Russia

Moscow says Turkey should apologize and compensate for downing a Russian aircraft last year if it wants to mend bilateral ties.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed regret that Ankara has taken “no steps” yet toward redressing its “aggressive and treacherous acts.”

Bilateral relations have gone into a tailspin since Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber over Syria, killing one of its pilots on November 24, 2015.

Peskov said the Russian side “expects apology, explanations of reasons of the incident and payment of compensation for the downed jet and also compensation to the family of the killed pilot.”

His remarks came a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the two sides should work together to better bilateral ties.

Erdogan also reiterated Turkey’s position that the incident had been the result of a “pilot error” made by the Russian jet.

Ankara says the aircraft was targeted after repeatedly violating the Turkish airspace, but Moscow rejects the claim.

A combination picture taken from video shows a plane crashing in flames in a mountainous area in northern Syria after it was shot down by Turkish fighter jets near the Syrian border on November 24, 2015. (Reuters)

Russia has been conducting combat sorties against Takfiri terrorists since late September 2015 upon a request by the Damascus government.

President Vladimir Putin has called Turkey’s downing of the Russian bomb “a stab in the back” by “the accomplices of terrorists.”

He has said Moscow was still waiting for an apology from Turkey or some assurances that “the culprits of this crime” would be punished.

Turkish authorities, however, said last month they had dropped all charges against a militant suspected of killing the Russian pilot.

Security sources said a public prosecutor in the Aegean coastal city of Izmir decided to withdraw charges against Alparslan Celik who has said his group killed Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkov.

In an interview with Hurriyet newspaper published on December 27, 2015, Celik had said the killing was in retaliation for Russia’s aerial campaign against foreign-backed militant groups in Syria.

However, the Turkish prosecutor reportedly decided to release him after examining “video evidence” in which Celik can purportedly be seen telling armed men shooting at the Russian pilot not to do so.

Following the incident, Moscow imposed a number of sanctions on Ankara. They included import restriction on Turkish foods, a ban on tourist travel to Turkey, an embargo on hiring Turkish citizens in Russia and a ban on the activities of Turkish organizations in Russia.

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