Vladimir Putin refuses to speak to Turkish president over Ankara’s lack of apology
The row between Russia and Turkey since the latter downed a Moscow warplane this week continues with the Russian president refusing to speak to his Turkish counterpart
Russia suspended visa free travel with Turkey and warned that it may restrict civilian passenger flights between the two countries on Friday, as the confrontation between the two countries deepened.
In the most drastic step so far, the Kremlin revealed that Vladimir Putin has twice refused to take calls from Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, until he apologises for a Turkish warplane shot down a Russian military jet on Tuesday.
Yuri Ushakov, an aide to Mr Putin, told reporters in Moscow that the president had twice refused to take phone calls from Mr Erdogan since the aircraft was shot down.
“We see Turkey’s unwillingness to simply apologise for the incident with the plane,” Yuri Ushakov said.
Mr Erdogan sounded a conciliatory note on Friday, saying he “attached a lot of importance to our relations with Russia” and that he wanted to meet Mr Putin on Monday during the climate summit in Paris next week.
But he also warned Mr Putin was “playing with fire” following Russian authorities’ arrest of 39 Turkish businessmen for visa violations on Thursday.
“It is playing with fire to go as far as mistreating our citizens who have gone to Russia,” Mr Erdogan told supporters during a speech in Bayburt, in north-east Turkey.
The Kremlin said a formal request for a meeting, received via the foreign ministry, is being considered.
Two Russian servicemen were killed after a Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian SU-24 jet over the Turkish-Syrian border on Tuesday, sparking the worst crisis in relations between Ankara and Moscow since the cold war.
Russia has unveiled a series of increasingly harsh economic anddiplomatic responses to the shoot down, including suspension of major investment projects, a possible ban on Turkish fruit and vegetable import, and the arrests of the 39 businessmen who entered the country as tourists.
In the most drastic step so far, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said on Friday that Moscow it would scrap a visa-free regime with Turkey from January 1, 2016.
Announcing the move at a press conference with Walid Muallem, the Syrian foreign minister, Mr Lavrov said Ankara had been uncooperative in providing information about Turkish citizens suspected of terrorism.
“We have more and more questions about the activity of Ankara and its real commitment to eradicating terrorism,” Mr Lavrov said.
The move only affects Turks entering Russia, and
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