“Turkey May Pay Aid to “relieve Russian Pain” Over The Shooting”

erdoganputinThe Kremlin sought to dampen Turkey’s hopes for a swift restoration of normal relations on Tuesday, a day after Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan expressed regret over the downing of a Russian warplane last year.

The Russian jet was shot down, with the loss of the pilot, in November while taking 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.

The incident triggered Russian sanctions against Turkey that have damaged trade and tourism.

After writing to Russian President Vladimir Putin to voice his regret on Monday, Erdoğan said he believed Ankara would normalize relations with Moscow “rapidly.  But the Kremlin struck a more cautious tone on Tuesday.

“One should not think it possible to normalize everything within a few days, but work in this direction will continue,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

“President Putin has expressed more than once his willingness to maintain good relations with Turkey and the Turkish people,” Peskov said. “Now a very important step has been made.”

Putin has said an apology from Erdogan was necessary to repair relations. Erdogan spokesman İbrahim Kalın said the Turkish president had expressed regret over the shooting in a letter to Putin, but added that this was not an apology.

Even as ties between the two countries improve, Kalin added, sticking points over Syria and other issues would continue.

“In the coming period, Turkey’s ties with Russia will enter a normalization phase. Our policies on Ukraine, Syria and Crimea will not change, we don’t agree with Russia on these areas but we will continue to discuss these issues,” he told reporters.

As well as an official apology, Moscow has also said it wants Turkey to pay compensation for the incident, in which the Russian pilot ejected but was killed by rebel gunfire on the ground in Syria as he parachuted down to earth.

Kalın said Turkey may pay aid to “relieve Russian pain” over the shooting but he said that would not constitute compensation, which would require a legal ruling or an agreement.

Turkey says legal proceedings are underway against an individual allegedly responsible for the killing of the pilot.