Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sent a personal letter to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin apologising for downing Moscow's fighter jet in 2014. In a surprise move to mend strained ties with Moscow, Ankara has also offered compensation for the downed jet.
Kremlin had earlier released a statement saying that the Turkish leader acknowledged Russia as a "friend and strategic partner" and does not want to spoil the ties between the two nations. Erdogan went on to say in his letter: "We never had the desire or deliberate intention of shooting down the Russian Federation's plane."
Turkey has also confirmed that Erdogan has sent a letter to Putin expressing regret over the matter.
Turkey's F-16 fighter jets shot down a Russian SU-24 bomber on 24 November 2015 for violating Ankara's sovereign airspace. Moscow had argued the jet, which was on a Syria mission, did not enter Turkish airspace. The ejected pilots faced ground fire, which killed one of them. The Russian plane came down in a rebel-held territory in Syria.
The incident has snowballed into a major blow to the relations between the two nations with both refusing to scale back their moves. Russia has announced an array of economic sanctions on Turkey denting various sectors. However, the situation is likely to change with Turkey issuing an apology.
Ankara is also set to send its Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Russia to attend a regional summit in Sochi. He is also expected to meet his Russian opposite number.
"Both the Turkish and Russian people want an end to this crisis. They both believe [this crisis] is nonsense. What falls on us as governments is to meet this expectation of our peoples without delay. There are good developments in this direction and we'll soon announce them to our people," Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters.