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  Thursday, August 22, 2019
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The Georgian Foreign Ministry demanded Tuesday that Russia give an official
The Georgian Foreign Ministry demanded Tuesday that Russia give an official apology and pay compensation following the alleged shooting down of an unmanned reconnaissance drone by a Russian aircraft in April.

A UN report published on Monday, based on video footage and radar records, confirmed Georgia's earlier claims that on April 20 the Russian Air Force shot down a Georgian drone over the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia. Russia's Defense Ministry has dismissed the report.

Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vyacheslav Kovalenko was summoned to the country's Foreign Ministry over the incident and handed an official protest note.

"All collated evidence confirms that Moscow has committed an act of aggression against Georgia and violated fundamental international laws," Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze told a news conference after the meeting with Kovalenko.

He said Tbilisi is also demanding the withdrawal of additional peacekeepers deployed by Russia in the breakaway republic of Abkhazia and the annulment of former-president Vladimir Putin's decree issued on April 16 on closer ties with Abkhazia.

In response, the Russian ambassador said he was not questioning the professionalism of the UN experts, but doubted "the authenticity of the evidence they have been working with."

Relations between Russia and Georgia have been consistently strained since President Mikheil Saakashvili came to power in Georgia four years ago, with both sides being involved in numerous disputes, most recently over Russia's moves to develop closer ties with Georgia's two breakaway regions.

Bilateral relations saw a new low in April when then president Vladimir Putin instructed the government to establish closer ties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia accused Russia of trying to annex the provinces, while Russian officials said Tbilisi was planning to invade Abkhazia.

The pro-Western Georgian leadership's plans to join NATO, and a series of economic embargos imposed on Georgia by Russia in 2006 have also presented major setbacks in ties between the countries in recent years.


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