vladimir putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.png
Photograph: screenshot / youtube.com

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is on his way to St Petersburg Tuesday to meet his "friend," Russian President Vladimir Putin.

My, what a difference a few months make.

Before the rapprochement they reached in June, the two had taken turns during the previous six months savaging one another and airing a variety of allegations of misbehaviour, all fallout from a November incident in which a Turkish fighter shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border.

The following are some of the comments the two might have to explain away as they celebrate their friendship on Tuesday.

November 26, two days after the incident:

Putin - "One gets the impression that the Turkish leadership is deliberately steering Russian-Turkish relations into a dead end. This is regrettable."

Erdogan - "I think if there is a side that has to apologize, then we are not it. The ones who violated our airspace are the ones who need to apologize."

Erdogan (attempting to draw a link between Russia, which is backing Syria, and Islamic State) - "If you are seeking the source of weaponry and financial power of Daesh, the first place to look is the Assad regime and countries that act with it."

November 30:

Former Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu - "No Turkish prime minister or president or authority will apologize because of doing our duty. Our military did their job when they protected our airspace. Our airspace and our border is an issue of national security, but [even] more an issue of dignity for us."

December 2:

Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov (linking Turkey to the purchase of oil stolen and resold by Islamic State) - "Turkey is the main consumer of this oil stolen from the legitimate authorities of Syria and Iraq. According to the obtained evidence, the country's supreme political leadership, including President Erdogan and his family, are involved in this criminal business. We have repeatedly pointed to the risk of flirtation with terrorists."

December 3:

Putin - "Allah has decided to punish the ruling clique in Turkey by depriving them of sense and reason."

He also called the shooting down of the plane a "vile war crime."

Erdogan - "To embroil my family into this issue is not very ethical."

April 14:

Putin (when asked if he would save Erdogan from drowning) - "If someone decides to drown, no one can save him."

June 27:

Erdogan (in a statement of apology to the families of the pilot of the downed plane) - "I would like to inform the family of the deceased Russian pilot that I share their pain and to offer my condolences to them. May they excuse us."

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov - "Erdogan expresses deep regret for what happened and emphasizes readiness to do everything possible to restore the traditionally friendly relations between Turkey and Russia, as well as work together on crisis events in the region and the fight against terrorism."

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