UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Georgia summons Russian ambassador over airspace violation

RIA Novosti

07/08/2007 12:52

TBILISI, August 7 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian ambassador to Tbilisi was summoned Tuesday to the Georgian Foreign Ministry in connection with the alleged violation of national airspace by a Russian aircraft.

Georgia's Interior Ministry earlier said a Russian plane flew Monday over Georgian territory firing a missile on the village of Tsitelubani, located 65 kilometers (about 40 miles) northwest of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. The missile did not explode, the ministry said.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili over the alleged incident, Vyacheslav Kovalenko said: "Russian aircraft did not violate Georgia's airspace. I am completely ruling out such a possibility."

His statement echoes earlier denials by Russian Air Force officials.

"Russian aircraft did not fly over Georgian territory either Monday evening or Tuesday morning," said Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky, a spokesman for the Russian Air Force. "They [the aircraft] did not violate Georgian airspace."

The Georgian interior minister earlier called the alleged incident an act of aggression against Georgia.

"I consider this incident an act of aggression on the part of pilots who flew from the territory of a foreign state," Vano Merabishvili said, adding that a missile hit the ground without exploding but fell apart, creating a large crater.

Georgian television reported Tuesday that experts had found a missile near Tsitelubani and had determined its serial number.

"The site where the missile hit the ground has been cordoned off by police," the Tbilisi-based Mze TV channel said. "Explosives experts, investigators, and other specialist are examining the missile parts to determine its trajectory."

The site of the incident is in the zone of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, where the observation posts of the Russian, Ossetian and Georgian peacekeepers are located.

South Ossetia, which declared its independence from Georgia following a bloody conflict that left hundreds dead in 1991-1992, has been a sensitive issue in bilateral relations between Georgia and Russia.

Georgian authorities are seeking to bring it back under their control, and have accused Russia, which has peacekeepers in the area, along with Georgian and South Ossetian troops, of encouraging separatist sentiments.

Meanwhile, South Ossetia Tuesday accused Georgia of violating its airspace and firing missiles at its territory.

"Georgia has conducted an air strike on the territory of South Ossetia," the government press service said in a statement.

"A Georgian aircraft, probably a Su-25 or L-39, flew over the village of Tsinagar and fired air-to-ground missiles in the Gromski Gorge," the statement said, adding there were no reports of any casualties or damage.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list