UN to discuss Georgia-Russia row

Georgia claims Russian jet shot down a drone over its breakaway province of Abkhazia.


    The ministry also said that the flight over Abkhazia violated UN ceasefire agreements.

    Speaking after the council discussed Georgia's request for an emergency meeting on Monday afternoon, Vitaly Churkin, Russia's UN ambassador, said: "We did not object to having a meeting ... and we'll have things to say at that meeting as well".
     
    Churkin said that he reminded the council of the need to hear the views of the Abkhazian side.

    "We will continue to work having them invited to speak to the council," he said.
     
    Escalating tensions
     
    Tensions between the two countries have escalated over two breakaway regions in Georgia - Abkhazia and South Ossetia - which have close ties to Moscow and have been independently run since the early 1990s when fighting with Georgian troops ended.
     
    Officials in Tbilisi released footage on Monday that they said came from the drone's onboard camera and showed a Russian military MiG-29 jet launching a missile at the aircraft.
     
    A spokesman for Russia's air force said that the allegations were "nonsense".

    "What would a Russian jet fighter be doing over Georgian territory?" he said.
     
    Mikhail Saakashvili, Georgia's president, said that he had telephoned Vladimir Putin, his Russian counterpart, to protest against "these aggressive attacks on Georgia".

    "Today I spoke to the Russian Federation's President Vladimir Putin. This was an uneasy talk," Saakashvili said in a televised address.

    'Destabilising factor'

    The Kremlin said that Putin had warned the Georgian leader that flights by unmanned reconnaissance aircraft in the region risked increasing tensions.


    Colonel David Nairashvili, Georgia's air force commander, told The Associated Press that distinctive twin-tail markings of the fighter jet show in the footage indicate that it was a MiG-29.

    "It's a Russian aircraft. Georgia does not possess it, nor do Abkhaz separatists," he said. "It's absolutely illegal for a Russian MiG-29 to be there."

    He said that radar had shown the aircraft took off from the Abkhazian town of Gudauta, the former site of a Russian military base.

    'Annexation' claims

    Last week, Georgia accused Moscow of the de facto annexation of Abkhazia after Putin ordered his government to establish closer ties with the provinces.

    The controversy came as Russia restored postal links with Georgia, ending an embargo imposed in 2006 when Georgia arrested four Russian military officers on spying charges.

    Moscow has also granted Russian citizenship to the vast majority of the breakaway regions' residents, and recently lifted 12-year-old trade sanctions against Abkhazia.

    Russian officials have warned that Georgia will have to abandon its claims on the regions if it joins Nato.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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