“The phone conversation between President Putin and President Erdogan will take place tomorrow [on Wednesday], initiated by Russia,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday.
On Monday, Erdogan sent a letter to President Putin to offer his apologies for the death of a Russian pilot who was killed when his jet was downed over the Syrian-Turkish border. “The head of the Turkish state expressed his deep sympathy and condolences to the relatives of the deceased Russian pilot and said ‘sorry,’” Peskov said.
Russian-Turkish ties have seen a dramatic decline since last November when a Russian Su-24M bomber was shot down by a Turkish F16. A pilot died when shot while parachuting to the ground and a marine was killed in action during a rescue mission to save the surviving co-pilot.
The act of aggression prompted a quick response from Moscow, with Russia’s leader calling it “a stab in the back.” Economic sanctions restricting agricultural exports and tourism were imposed on Turkey almost immediately thereafter.
The Kremlin sees Erdogan’s message as an important step forward in bilateral relations, but there is still much to be done, according to Peskov.
“Indeed, we will have to make more than one step towards each other,” he said. “There’s no reason to believe everything would be settled within several days, but we will work on this.”
He did not elaborate on whether President Putin would reply to Erdogan’s letter, but confirmed that the Turkish leader had literally used the word “sorry” without “philological intricacies.”