Missile found in Georgia is affront to Moscow: Russian military

The Head of the Air Force Staff Lieutenant General Igor Khvorov has presented the results of an investigation into claims by Georgia that Russia fired a missile on its territory. He claims it is an affront to Moscow.

Russian military substantiated that  the evidence presented by the Georgian side have been falsified. Especially the presence of non-Russian made elements found on the spot reveals the falsification, the air force officials claim.

On August 6 a missile landed near the Georgian village of Tsitelubani, north of the capital, Tbilisi. It did not explode and caused no injuries, nevertheless it had far-reaching consequences.  

Tbilisi immediately blamed Moscow for the incident, saying the missile was launched by a Russian plane and was targeted at a radar station close to Georgia’s breakaway republic of South Ossetia.

Mikhail Saakashvili, Georgia's President
Mikhail Saakashvili, Georgia's President
“I think this is not only a threat for Georgia's security, but I think this kind of incident is a major risk for European security in general. I was really wondering, together with other members of the Georgian government, how far this intrusion might go,” commented Mikhail Saakashvili, Georgia's President.  

Russia denied the allegations that its jet fighter violated Georgia's borders and said the incident was a fabrication plotted by Tbilisi.

“I believe that it was yet another theatrical show. It was staged, but not very professionally. At first they called it a bomb, then a missile. At first they said it was an SU 24, then an SU 25. You may remember the TV shots from the scene, where a bomb or a missile went deep under ground. That area was surrounded by so-called police tape. This tape was placed within two or three metres of the unexploded bomb. Just think about it. If a real bomb or a missile with an unexploded warhead was really there, then the police tape should have been placed at least 500 or 800 metres away, not within two metres, where the journalists were standing. If it had exploded, you can imagine what would have happened,” stated Sergey Ivanov, Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister.

When two groups of experts from Western countries were invited by Georgia to investigate the incident, their results supported Georgia's claims.

Russian military specialists were allowed to visit Tsitelubani only several days after after the incident. They said most of the evidence had already been removed by that time. Nevertheless, they drew the opposite conclusions, some of which were later voiced by Russia's ambassador at the UN.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's Ambassador to UN
Vitaly Churkin, Russia's Ambassador to UN

“Among the remains of the missile there was a small unit with a marking in English. Such a part could not possibly be installed in a Soviet or Russian missile, as components produced in foreign countries are banned from being used in them,” Russia's Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, pointed out.  

Moscow says it also provided Georgia with its radar records, showing that no Russian plane was near the border on the day of the incident. Tbilisi didn't regard these as  proof.

“Seven countries have confirmed the incontrovertible evidence of Russian involvement in the August 6 violation of Georgian airspace and bombing of my country's territory. Russia meanwhile has been unable to provide any evidence that may in any way contradict the conclusions of independent international experts,” claimed Georgia's Ambassador to the United Nations, Irakli Alasania.

However, none of the radar data from Georgia's air force has ever been submitted by Tbilisi.

Russia's Foreign Ministry says Georgia is using the situation to get closer to NATO.

According to Georgia's Foreign Ministry, the country's radar will soon be integrated into the NATO system. It also says that this dispute with Russia is serving to speed up this process.