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  Sunday, February 23, 2020
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Georgia failed to convince the UN Security Council in a closed-door
Georgia failed to convince the UN Security Council in a closed-door session over Russia's alleged aggression towards Tbilisi, following a row over the downing of a surveillance drone by a Russian fighter.

Sunday's downing of a Georgian surveillance drone is the latest dispute in the region, following Russian President Vladimir Putin's calls last week for closer ties with Georgia's two breakaway provinces, which has plunged relations between Moscow and Tbilisi to a new low.

The move provoked an angry response from Tbilisi with Georgia's foreign minister accusing Russia of attempting "to annex," Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which broke away from Georgia in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Georgia is desperate to retain control over the two republics.

Russia's envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin said he regretted that Abkhazia had not been invited to attend the session and went on to say that strengthening ties with the two breakaway regions was to develop economic links and was not "diplomatic recognition or international recognition of Abkhazia or South Ossetia."

In a joint statement after the UN Security Council meeting Wednesday evening, the United States, France, Germany and the U.K., called on Russia "to revoke or not to implement its decision" for closer ties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In response Russia's envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin said the request was a "tall order," however, and added "I think that they themselves understand that this not something which is going to happen."

The U.S. expressed its concern over the downing of the Georgian drone and in a statement U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said: "We reiterate our unwavering support for Georgian sovereignty and territorial integrity and are concerned by the presence of a MiG-29 aircraft in Georgian airspace."

McCormack urged both sides to find "a political solution" to the dispute.

Russia has repeatedly dismissed claims a Russian fighter was involved in the shooting down of the Georgian reconnaissance aircraft.

Churkin told journalists: "Abkhazia says that their air defenses shot it down, and our air force says that our planes were not flying in the area."

Ex-Soviet breakaway regions have stepped up their drive for self-rule since Kosovo's declaration of independence on February 17. Georgia's Abkhazia and South Ossetia, along with Moldova's Transdnestr, have since asked Russia's parliament, the UN and other organizations to recognize their independence.


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