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UN: Russians Shot Down Aircraft Over Abkhazia

Georgia: UN says Russian air force shot down aircraft over Abkhazia

27 May 2008 - The United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) has concluded in a report that a Georgian reconnaissance drone aircraft that crashed in Abkhazia last month was shot down by the Russian air force.

UNOMIG carried out an investigation after receiving a report on the downing of an unmanned surveillance aircraft on 20 April, and brought together a team of specialists who examined eyewitness, radar and video evidence to establish what had happened, concluding that the drone had been downed by a Russian fighter jet.

The report stresses that, under the Moscow Agreement, only Commonwealth of Independent States peacekeeping forces are permitted to keep Georgian and Abkhaz forces apart.

"From a strict peacekeeping perspective, therefore" the report continues, "the Mission considers that enforcement action by third-parties - in this case the Russian Federation - in the zone of conflict is fundamentally inconsistent with the Moscow Agreement."

However, the mission reiterated its position that the overflight of the zone of conflict by Georgian surveillance aircraft also constituted a breach of the Moscow Agreement.

Last month, the Security Council, in a resolution extending the mandate of UNOMIG until 15 October, called on "all parties to consider and address seriously each other's legitimate security concerns, to refrain from any acts of violence or provocation, including political action or rhetoric, and to comply fully with previous agreements regarding ceasefire and non-use of violence."

UNOMIG was established in 1993 to verify compliance with a cessation of hostilities and separation of forces accord following the armed conflict between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides.

ENDS

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