Georgia demands Russian apology over spy plane
And a compensation
Georgia demanded on Tuesday that Russia apologize after a U.N. report said a Russian air force jet had shot down a Georgian spy plane last month, but Moscow said it did not trust the report`s conclusions, according to Reuters.
"Georgia protests and demands from Russia an apology and compensation for the cost of the drone," Deputy Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze told reporters after Russia`s envoy was summoned to his ministry.
Russia denies any involvement in shooting down the unmanned aircraft, which was brought down on April 20 over Abkhazia, a Moscow-backed separatist region of Georgia.
Georgia`s pro-Western leaders, who have angered big neighbor Russia by seeking to join NATO, have described the incident as an act of aggression.
The U.N. report strengthened Georgian accusations -- backed by some of its Western allies -- that Russia is stoking tension in the volatile region, scene of a separatist war in the 1990s.
Russia`s ambassador in Tbilisi, Vyacheslav Kovalenko, was summoned to the Georgian Foreign Ministry earlier on Tuesday and handed a note of protest over the incident.
In Moscow, Russia`s Foreign Ministry said it had no issue with the U.N. team that compiled the report, but it believed the information on which the report was based was "tendentious and not objective."
"Overall, the quality of these investigations does not inspire confidence," said a ministry statement, which was posted on its Internet site www.mid.ru
The U.N. report, released on Monday, said radar records and video footage from the downed aircraft showed it was shot down by a missile fired from a Russian aircraft.
The U.N. report also said Georgia was violating a ceasefire agreement by flying reconnaissance flights over Abkhazia.
Abkhazia is a constant source of tension between Moscow and Tbilisi. It also feeds instability in a South Caucasus region which is emerging as an important route for transporting oil from the Caspian Sea to world markets.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the plane incident was just the latest in a long line of "provocations" by Georgia`s leaders and he restated Russia`s opposition to Tbilisi joining NATO.
"Russia has complied fully and continues to comply with what we have agreed with the Georgian side," said Lavrov in Copenhagen, where he had talks with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
"But for their part Georgia fails to live up to its obligations under the agreements that have been reached," he said, speaking through an interpreter.
"We hope that countries that have influence on Georgia will put that influence into effect so that Georgia lives up to its commitments... rather than continue provoking Georgia and prompting it to gain admission into NATO in the hope that this will somehow solve all the problems that Georgia has."
NATO offered Georgia and fellow ex-Soviet state Ukraine eventual membership of the alliance at a summit last month, though it did not give them a timetable for accession.
Moscow says if the two become members they could be used as a bridgehead to move NATO troops and missiles right up to Russia`s borders, compromising its security.