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5 May, 2008 13:23

Georgia pulls out of air-defence treaty with Russia

Georgia has announced it is pulling out of an air-defence agreement with Russia. It comes after Moscow accused Tbilisi of violating existing agreements by sending spy aircraft into the airspace of Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia. Earlier Monday, th

Batu Kutelia, Georgia Deputy Defence Minister, said his country “has withdrawn from the CIS treaty which was designed to create a joint air-defence system of the CIS countries”.

“The reasoning for this move is first of all political and then technical. In terms of political reasoning, Georgia has already declared that we are not participating in any form of military or military technical co-operation within the CIS format,” he said.

The treaty between the two countries was signed in 1995.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tbilisi’s actions are increasing confrontation and causing concern in Moscow.

“Georgia's course is designed to undermine all agreements, in particular the settlement of the Georgian-Ossetian and Georgian-Abkhazian conflicts,” he said.

Also on Monday, Abkhazia showed journalists what it claimed were fragments of two Georgian drones shot down on Sunday.

The republic’s authorities said the two unmanned planes were shot down over Abkhazian airspace.

Georgia admits its spy planes do fly over Abkhazia and will continue to do so, but denies involvement in Sunday's incident.

Earlier, Abkhazian government said Georgia could launch a military operation against its breakaway republic in the next few days.

Earlier in the week the Russian Foreign Ministry stated Georgia was increasing its military presence on the border of Abkhazia in preparation for an offensive.

According to the republic’s military, Georgia has brought more than 7,000 soldiers and heavy military equipment to the unofficial border.

The reports have also been backed by a source within the Russian defenсe establishment.

Russia is ready to respond to any attempts by Tbilisi to use force. Earlier this week Moscow sent more peacekeepers to the region.