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18 Sep, 2009 23:19

Ukrainian prosecutors confirm country helped Georgia during Ossetia war

Reports in Ukraine say that prosecutors have determined that Ukrainian military specialists maintained Georgia's air defence systems during its war in South Ossetia last year.

The Ukrainian newspaper “Sevodnya” quoted an unnamed source for the story inside Ukrainian law-enforcement agencies.

So far, Kiev has confirmed it supplied weapons to Georgia, but has denied that Ukrainian military specialists worked there during the war – calling such accusations a lie.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General office has discovered, writes “Sevodnya” newspaper, that Ukraine not only sold the air defence missile system “Buk M1” to Georgia at a price eight time less than the ordinary export price for such equipment, but also sent a group of civil specialists from the city of Balaklea in Kharkov region to Georgia to maintain the systems.

The newspaper names several specialists: Valery Kabanets, Dmitry Pilipchuk and Vladimir Ponomarenko and insists they stayed in Georgia from August 5 to August 13 2008, in other words before, during and after the conflict in South Ossetia. They each were forced by prosecutors to write explanations of what they were doing in the Republic of Georgia in August of last year.

They consistently denied participating in combat, but do confirm they worked in “maintenance of the air defence missile systems”.

Overall, 10 specialists are believed to have been involved. It is illegal for Ukrainian citizens to take part in military conflicts without official approval.

After Georgia attacked South Ossetia in August 2008, Russian troops drove out Tbilisi's forces.

During the five-day war, Georgia's air defense shot down four Russian planes before Russia announced a ceasefire.