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PARIS, November 30. /TASS/. The Kremlin has so far withheld comment on the handover by Turkey to Russia of the body of the pilot of the Su-24 plane that was downed over Syria, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Monday. "I’d rather not comment on this issue in any way," he said, answering a question if the Kremlin regarded the pilot’s body handover as Turkey’s attempt to repair relations with Russia.
It was reported earlier on Monday that the body of Russian pilot Oleg Peshkov was sent from Turkey to Russia. Turkish television has shown how the Turkish military were loading the coffin with the pilot’s body on a plane. An official military ceremony was held.
The body of the Russian pilot was delivered to Ankara from the Hatay province on Sunday. According to previous statement made by Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish side had taken the body of the Russian pilot and was going to give it to Russian diplomats. He said at night Orthodox priests had made necessary devotions.
The Russian embassy does not comment on the issues related to the procedure of the pilot’s body handover and its transportation to the homeland.
An F-16 fighter jet of the Turkish Air Force shot down Russia’s Su-24M bomber on Tuesday. Ankara claims the Su-24M bomber violated the Turkish airspace in the area of the border with Syria. However, Russia’s Defence Ministry has said the Su-24M plane stayed exclusively over the Syrian territory and "there was no violation of the Turkish air space."
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that the attack on the bomber will have "serious consequences" for the Russian-Turkish relations. According to Putin, the Turkish Air Force’s attack on the Russian combat plane that took part in the operation against terrorists in Syria and posed no threat to Turkey is a "stab in the back of Russia." The crew of the Su-24M bomber managed to eject but one of the pilots was killed by gunfire from the ground. The second pilot was rescued and taken to the Russian airbase. Two Mi-8 helicopters were engaged in the pilots’ rescue operation. One of the helicopters came under fire and had to make an emergency landing. One Russian contract marine was killed by militants in the operation. The rest soldiers on board the helicopter were evacuated. The downed Mi-8 helicopter was later destroyed by mortar fire from the territory controlled by militants.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said, speaking at the ceremony of the presentation of credentials by new foreign ambassadors on Thursday that Turkey was steering the relations into the gridlock as it neither apologized nor offered to repair the damage, nor promised to punish those responsible. "We have not heard yet apologies from the highest political level of Turkey. Nor do we hear proposals to repair the damage or promises to punish the perpetrators for the committed crime," Putin said. "One gets the impression that the Turkish leadership is steering deliberately the Russian-Turkish relations into the dead end, which is regrettable," he added.
In an interview with CNN, Erdogan warned Moscow that Turkey would take steps if its warplane were downed by the Russian S-400 missile system in case it violated the Syrian airspace. "I think if there is a party that needs to apologize, it is not us," he said. "Those who violated our airspace are the ones who need to apologize.".