Evidence of missiles: Georgia


Summary

Georgia's Foreign Ministry has issued a formal protest, calling the intrusion and firing of the missile "undisguised aggression and a gross violation of sovereignty of the country".

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"This was a provocation aimed only at one thing, at disrupting the peace in Georgia, which would cause panic in society and ultimately change the political course of the country," Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili says.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry says radar records compatible with NATO standards showed that a Russian Su-24 jet had flown from Russia into Georgia and launched a missile, which did not explode.

Investigators identified the weapon as the Russian-made Raduga Kh-58 missile designed to hit radars, the ministry says.

The missile, code-named by NATO as AS-11, carried a warhead of 140kg of

TNT, it says.

Russian denial

Russia's air force has flatly denied that its planes had crossed into Georgia's airspace.

Georgia has long accused Russia of trying to destabilise the country and of backing separatists in its breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Mr Saakashvili has pledged to bring back under central government control.

The Gori region, where the missile was dropped, is next to South Ossetia.

General Marat Kulakhmetov, commander of Russian peacekeepers patrolling South Ossetia, said an unidentified aircraft dropped the missile after flying over South Ossetia and coming under fire from the ground.

General Kulakhmetov suggested the plane came from Georgia.

Boris Chochiyev, a deputy prime minister in South Ossetia's separatist government, accused Georgia of dropping the missile.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry today emphasised that the nation doesn't have Su-24 jets or missiles of that type.

Relations between Russia and Georgia have been strained ever since Mr Saakashvili was elected president in early 2004 and made clear his intentions to move the former Soviet republic closer to the West and join NATO.

Georgia has accused Russia of backing separatists.

Moscow, in turn, has accused Tbilisi of fomenting tensions around rebel provinces.

It has repeatedly accused Russia of violating its airspace – claims Russia has invariably denied.

Earlier this year, Georgia said Russian helicopters fired on its territory in the Kodori Gorge, a volatile area on the fringes of breakaway Abkhazia.

No information yet: UN

At the United Nations, spokesman Farhan Haq says the world body had no firsthand information on the situation, and noted that the UN mission in Georgia was limited to the Abkhazian conflict, not that in South Ossetia.

The US State Department yesterday condemned the attack, but said it was too early to say who might have been behind it.

"What we do know is that there was an attack on Georgia and we absolutely condemn any attack on Georgia," saYS Matt Bryza, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European affairs who specialises in the region.

"We firmly support Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity."


Georgia's Foreign Ministry has issued a formal protest, calling the intrusion and firing of the missile "undisguised aggression and a gross violation of sovereignty of the country".

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"This was a provocation aimed only at one thing, at disrupting the peace in Georgia, which would cause panic in society and ultimately change the political course of the country," Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili says.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry says radar records compatible with NATO standards showed that a Russian Su-24 jet had flown from Russia into Georgia and launched a missile, which did not explode.

Investigators identified the weapon as the Russian-made Raduga Kh-58 missile designed to hit radars, the ministry says.

The missile, code-named by NATO as AS-11, carried a warhead of 140kg of

TNT, it says.

Russian denial

Russia's air force has flatly denied that its planes had crossed into Georgia's airspace.

Georgia has long accused Russia of trying to destabilise the country and of backing separatists in its breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Mr Saakashvili has pledged to bring back under central government control.

The Gori region, where the missile was dropped, is next to South Ossetia.

General Marat Kulakhmetov, commander of Russian peacekeepers patrolling South Ossetia, said an unidentified aircraft dropped the missile after flying over South Ossetia and coming under fire from the ground.

General Kulakhmetov suggested the plane came from Georgia.

Boris Chochiyev, a deputy prime minister in South Ossetia's separatist government, accused Georgia of dropping the missile.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry today emphasised that the nation doesn't have Su-24 jets or missiles of that type.

Relations between Russia and Georgia have been strained ever since Mr Saakashvili was elected president in early 2004 and made clear his intentions to move the former Soviet republic closer to the West and join NATO.

Georgia has accused Russia of backing separatists.

Moscow, in turn, has accused Tbilisi of fomenting tensions around rebel provinces.

It has repeatedly accused Russia of violating its airspace – claims Russia has invariably denied.

Earlier this year, Georgia said Russian helicopters fired on its territory in the Kodori Gorge, a volatile area on the fringes of breakaway Abkhazia.

No information yet: UN

At the United Nations, spokesman Farhan Haq says the world body had no firsthand information on the situation, and noted that the UN mission in Georgia was limited to the Abkhazian conflict, not that in South Ossetia.

The US State Department yesterday condemned the attack, but said it was too early to say who might have been behind it.

"What we do know is that there was an attack on Georgia and we absolutely condemn any attack on Georgia," saYS Matt Bryza, the deputy assistant secretary of state for European affairs who specialises in the region.

"We firmly support Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity."