The UN Security Council passed a standard resolution on April 15 on Abkhazia, supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity and noting Russian peacekeepers’ “important stabilizing role” in the conflict zone.
It also extended the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) for another six months till October 15.
Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, told reporters after the Security Council session that the United States was “deeply concerned by reports from Moscow that Russia is planning on establishing semi-official representative missions in Abkhazia and South Ossetia without the approval of the Georgian government.”
“We urge Russia not to follow this path, which would undercut Russia's stated support for the principles of Georgian sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the U.S. diplomat said.
Russia's ambassador in the U.N. Vitaly Churkin, however, said in response that Khalilzad was “completely missing the real problem of the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict.”
“There is the new phenomenon of overflight jets [in] the security zone,” he said. “Recently a Georgian drone was shot down in the airspace of the security zone; there is a build-up of the Georgian military.”
The Abkhaz side on March 18 said it had shot down a Georgian medium-sized unmanned aerial vehicle produced by the Israeli company, Elbit Systems.
Churkin also said that it was "very hard to comment on anything especially to express concern on anything which is just based on press reports."
"But it is surprising to hear those concerns coming from countries, which have hastily recognized unilateral proclamations of independence in other places,” Churkin said, referring to the recognition of Kosovo. “This is not something which is being considered by Russia. We’ve been displaying remarkable patience and perseverance in trying to reach a political outcome of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict for a number of years.”
The U.S. ambassador also reiterated Washington’s concern over Russia’s withdrawal from the CIS treaty imposing sanctions on Abkhazia.
The Russian ambassador, however, told reporters that this decision by Moscow was in line with the Security Council resolution passed on April 15. Churkin was referring to the line in the resolution reading that the Security Council stresses “that economic development is urgently required in Abkhazia, Georgia, to improve the livelihoods of the communities affected by the conflict, in particular refugees and internally displaced persons.”
Churkin said that sanctions imposed under the 1996 treaty were “outdated” and added that there might be commercial Russian flights to the Abkhaz capital, Sokhumi.
The Security Council resolution says that it regrets “the continued lack of progress in implementing confidence-building measures” and calls on the Georgian and Abkhaz sides “to finalize without delay” documents on the non-use of violence on the return of refugees and internally displaced persons.
It also urged the sides “to address seriously each other’s legitimate security concerns, to refrain from any acts of violence or provocation, including political action or rhetoric.”
Reiterating the right of return of displaced persons and refugees to Abkhazia, it also “reaffirms the importance of such people’s return to their homes and property and that individual property rights have not been affected by the fact that owners had to flee during the conflict.”