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Georgia Accuses Russia of Violating Sovereignty


The U.N. Security Council is preparing to hear objections from Georgia over Russia's recent announcement that it would build stronger ties with two separatist regions located within Georgia's borders. The diplomatic dispute heated up when a Georgian surveillance drone was shot down by what the former Soviet republic says was a Russian MiG fighter. Colin McCullough reports for VOA from Moscow.

Georgian officials protested last week when Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian government to establish closer ties with the secessionist Georgian republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Both regions lie on Russia's southern border and have maintained de-facto independence from Georgia since the early 1990s.

Russia's overtures to the two regions drew a protest from Georgia that this violated its sovereignty. Georgia brought its grievance before the United Nations last week.

The U.N. Security Council agreed Monday to Georgia's request to hold a special meeting on the recent developments. The private U.N. meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the U.N., says he is sure that Russia will have something to say about the latest "non-constructive, and at times, provocative acts" from the Georgian side.

As a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia can veto any of its resolutions.

Oleg Morozov is the first deputy speaker of the Russian Duma, the lower house of parliament.

He says the actions taken by Georgia in relation to the U.N. meeting on South Osettia and Abkhazia, taken together with Georgia's overtures to join NATO, do not promote an improvement in relations between Georgia and Russia.

Tensions had increased Sunday after an unarmed Georgian surveillance drone was shot down while patrolling Abkhazia and the Georgian government released footage showing a MiG-29 launching an air-to-air missile at its unmanned craft.

Independent military experts confirm that the plane in the footage is a MiG-29. The aircraft has been a component of the Russian air force since it was introduced in 1983, for the then-Soviet military.

Shota Uteashvili is a spokesman for Georgia's Internal Ministry.

He says the two tails of the attacking craft can clearly be identified. Even a child knows this is what distinguishes a MiG from other military craft, he says, adding the Abkhazia separatist movement could not afford such an aircraft.

Georgian authorities have also released radar evidence indicating the plane returned to Russian territory after it attacked the drone.

Russia denies its air force was in the region, calling the charges "nonsense." General Alexander Zeiln says the Russian air force does not fly across international boundaries.

Alexander Hramchihin is an independent military analyst.

He says the fact that Russia's military does not have many unmanned drones means it perhaps did not anticipate that the Georgian craft would be able to gather and transmit footage of the attacking craft the way it did.

In other areas of relations between the two countries, Russia has recently made overtures to improve trade. Last month, Russia allowed the resumption of direct flights between Moscow and Georgia's capital, Tbilisi. And Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed authorities to initiate talks aimed at ending a ban on Georgian imports such as wine and mineral water.

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