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Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Monday, 26 May 2008 13:36 UK

UN backs Georgia over drone claim

Still from the Georgian video allegedly showing a Russian jet firing at the drone
Georgia said its pictures showed a MiG approaching the drone

A Russian jet did shoot down an unmanned Georgian drone over the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia last month, UN monitors say.

The jet flew back into Russian airspace after the attack, a UN report says.

Russia has denied the charges - even though Georgia's defence ministry released video appearing to show a Russian MiG-29 shooting down the drone.

Tensions over Abkhazia have soared, with Georgia and Russia accusing each other of a military build-up.

Moscow accuses Georgia of preparing to invade its breakaway region, where many residents hold Russian passports.

Georgia says Russia is preparing to annex the region.

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Georgia's air force commander shows footage that allegedly shows a Russian aircraft shooting down the Georgian plane

Georgia accused Moscow of an "act of international aggression" after the drone was shot down on 20 April.

It released video, which it said was recorded by the drone itself, of a fighter plane approaching it and then launching a missile in its direction. The picture then went dead.

A Russian air force spokesman said the claim was "nonsense", while Abkhaz rebels said they had downed the drone.

They have since claimed to have shot down several more.

Georgia map

But a report by UN monitors based in Abkhazia, released on Monday, said radar records showed the plane had flown into Russian airspace after the attack, and with no "compelling evidence to the contrary, this leads to the conclusion that the aircraft belonged to the Russian air force".

Russia's defence ministry rejected the UN's findings.

However, the report also criticised Georgia for operating reconnaissance flights over Abkhazia, which it said breached the terms of the ceasefire deal that ended the Abkhaz war of the early 1990s.

On the same day, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent greetings to Georgia on its independence day, and expressed a wish for "constructive co-operation between our countries".

"I sincerely wish peace and prosperity to the Georgian people, with which we have century-old ties of friendship and spiritual kinship," his message said.


SEE ALSO
Georgia angered by Russian move
16 Apr 08 |  Europe
Country profile: Georgia
18 Apr 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Georgia
18 Apr 08 |  Country profiles

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