Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin says Georgian claims that Russia launched a missile into Georgian territory earlier this month are "outlandish." He says Russia has serious doubts about the evidence Georgia has presented. From VOA's United Nation's bureau, Suzanne Presto reports.
Ambassador Churkin is denying Georgian accusations that a Russian jet launched a missile into Georgian territory on August 6. He says Georgia orchestrated the alleged incident.
"Fragments of various air weapons were taken into that region and placed in such a way as to simulate dropping that missile," said Vitaly Churkin.
Churkin says Georgia's evidence and version of events do not match the findings of a Russian delegation, including Russian air force experts, that visited Tbilisi last week.
"Serious doubts exist as to the reliability of the printouts and the digital copy of radar data provided by the Georgian side," he said. "These materials show a clear trace of the Russian intruder aircraft crossing the border, but lack a number of other objects which at that time were in the airspace of the region, according to the information of Russian objective control."
Churkin says eyewitness testimony about the aircraft's flight maneuvers is not matched in the radar printout.
He also says Georgia behaved suspiciously when it filled in the hole allegedly made by the missile, thus preventing experts from gathering clues from the edges of the pit.
Churkin says the missile should have detonated, from either explosives or fuel, upon striking the ground, but it did not. He adds that missile parts that contain serial numbers or dates of manufacture are missing.
The ambassador suggests that the missile could have come from a Russian warehouse in Georgia during Russian rule, or that the missile is not even Russian. He says some parts of the missile had English lettering, and foreign parts are not permitted in Russian missiles.
"On the whole, information and facts gathered by Russian experts during their work in Georgia on August 16th and 17th, and the behavior of our Georgian colleagues, make it possible to state with full confidence that the incident of August 6 was a deliberate provocation, organized and carried out by those in Georgia who are interested in aggravating the situation," he said.
Churkin says Georgia has not cooperated with Russian requests to review additional radar information or to inspect Georgian fighter jets that have the capacity to drop a missile similar to the one found near South Ossetia.
Churkin also blasted international experts who investigated the matter at Georgia's request. The experts did not say Russia was responsible for the alleged incident, but they did agree with Georgia's version of events - that a plane flew into Georgia from the Russian side and dropped a Russian-made missile.
"And the fact that the so-called independent international experts have confirmed this [Georgia's] version contradicts the above-mentioned literally glaring facts and raises serious doubts regarding either their expertise or their impartiality," said Vitaly Churkin.
Georgian officials accuse Russia of committing "an act of aggression," saying it violated Georgian airspace and fired the missile about 60 kilometers outside the capital, Tbilisi.