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Russia downs Georgian drone

Georgian President Mikhael Saakashvili says they have video footage of a Russian aircraft attacking Georgian territory. Fred Weir reports.

world Updated: Apr 22, 2008 23:45 IST
Fred Weir

The former Soviet state of Georgia has accusing Russia of aggression after an unidentified fighter plane shot down a Georgian reconnaissance drone over the pro-Moscow breakaway territory of Abkhazia.

“After repeated incidents of Russia violating Georgia’s airspace and unprovoked acts of aggression, this time we have video footage of a Russian aircraft attacking Georgian territory,” Georgian President Mikhael Saakashvili told journalists on Tuesday. The UN Security Council will convene in closed door session on Wednesday to hear Georgia’s complaint.

But Russia claims Georgia is responsible for whipping up tensions in the war-torn region, where a large force of Russian peacekeeping troops has been stationed for the past 15 years.

“I can assure you that we will have a thing or two to say (at Wednesday’s meeting) about the latest unconstructive, and at times provocative actions from the Georgian side,” Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said.

The Georgian air force drone was shot down on Sunday over Abkhazia, a rebel statelet that Georgia claims as its sovereign land.

The final videotape shot by the unmanned craft, displayed by Georgian officials on Tuesday, shows a twin-tailed fighter plane approaching and firing a missile, and then the picture goes blank. Georgia insists the plane is a MiG-29, a type that is only flown by Russia in that region.

Russian experts say the tape is too indistinct to positively identify the fighter jet, and insist no Russian air force planes were flying in that area on Sunday.