The March 11 attack on upper Kodori Gorge was “an act of war” against Georgia and Tbilisi wants the investigation of the incident to be reopened to cover all unanswered questions, Georgia’s ambassador to the UN, Irakli Alasania, told the Security Council on July 26.
A report by the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), issued on July 12, only suggested, but did not explicitly claim, that Russian army helicopters could have been involved in the attack.
“The Russians withheld some information, which was crucial for a successful investigative report,” Alasania said.
In particular, Russia did not provide air traffic control records. It also refused to trace the serial numbers found on rocket fragments, which would have determined the origin of the rockets.
Alasania said he had told the Security Council that if Russia continued to obstruct the investigation, “Georgia will really deem impossible in the future the participation of the Russian side as a main facilitator in the conflict.”
Echoing these remarks, State Minister for Conflict Resolution Issues Davit Bakradze warned that Tbilisi would demand Russia’s withdrawal from the UN secretary general’s Group of Friends if Moscow failed to cooperate.
“We demand the investigation be continued,” Bakradze told journalists in Tbilisi. “We demand the investigation be finalized and we demand answers to all the outstanding questions.”
“Otherwise,” he said, “it will be very difficult for us to see Russia’s role in the Group of Friends.”
The UN secretary-general's Group of Friends of Georgia acts as a facilitator between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides and consists of the United States, Germany, Britain, France and Russia.
The state minister also said Russia’s continued non-cooperation would make it impossible to maintain existing security mechanisms for conflict resolution.
Speaking with journalists in New York, Georgia’s ambassador to the UN said that there had been “numerous aerial attacks on sovereign Georgian territory” in the past fifteen years.
“And every time the Russians actually accused us of bombing our own territory,” Alasania said. “This time it is important for the international investigative group to come to its own conclusions… to stop a reoccurrence of this kind of attack.”