UN Concludes Russia Downed Georgian Drone
By VOA News
26 May 2008
United Nations investigators have concluded that a Russian fighter jet was responsible for downing an unmanned Georgian intelligence aircraft over Georgia last month.
The report released Monday said radar records showed the aircraft headed into Russian airspace after shooting down the drone over Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia.
A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Monday repeated his country's denial of its role in the April 20 incident. Russia contends that Abkhazian forces shot down the Georgian drone. The incident was captured on videotape aboard the downed aircraft.
The U.N. report also criticized Georgia for sending drones into the area, violating ceasefire accords ending fighting in Abkhazia in the 1990s between Georgian forces and Abkhaz separatist rebels.
Just days before the April incident, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government to establish closer links with Abkhazia and a second breakaway Georgian border region, South Ossetia.
Abkhazia and South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia in the early 1990s, sparking fighting.
A 1994 ceasefire agreement permitted Russian peacekeepers in both regions, where many residents hold Russian passports.
Moscow has drawn international criticism for bolstering its military presence in the two Georgian regions. Moscow calls its move a legal response to a Georgian troop buildup in the area.
Georgia says the Russian peacekeepers side with the separatists, and has pledged to bring both regions back under central government control.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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