Erdoğan briefs Putin on assassination of Russian ambassador to Turkey

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Following the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey in Ankara on Monday evening in an attack by a Turkish police officer protesting Russian involvement in Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Russian President Vladimir Putin and informed him about the assassination of Andrei Karlov.

Turkey and Russia have been mending fences in recent months after Turkey downed a Russian jet at the Syrian border in the fall of 2015 following an apology from President Erdoğan. The two countries diverge on their positions over the role of embattled Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Turkey has been an ardent supporter of regime change, while Russia lent its support to Assad, which resulted in the victory of Assad’s forces in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

The gunman who shot the Russian ambassador in Ankara on Monday protested “oppression” in Aleppo. His motives and background are being investigated as he reportedly chanted slogans of the radical Al-Nusra Front fighting in Syria against the regime. Turkey has frequently been accused of turning a blind eye to the extremist group in order to topple Assad.

Despite suspicions of the Islamist leanings of the gunman, the pro-government media and Erdoğan supporters have been quick to put the blame on the Gülen movement. However, in his initial statement on Monday night, Erdoğan did not target any particular group despite his extensive purge against the Gülen movement, saying only that the attack is a provocation targeting Turkish-Russia relations.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Turkey John Bass also condemned the attack, calling it “heinous.”

The High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini also extended her condolences to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. She also said on her Twitter account that she was in contact with Turkish authorities.

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