The Russian Foreign Ministry claimed on April 29 that video footage showing a fighter jet firing a missile and downing an unmanned Georgian reconnaissance drone was fabricated.
Georgia says the footage is “incontrovertible evidence” proving that a fighter jet, with twin-tail markings, shooting down the Georgian drone over Abkhazia on April 20 was a Russian MIG-29.
“[The video footage] does not warrent trust and raises many question marks,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on April 29. “Experts, firstly, have noted a strange maneuver by the pilot of the fighter jet [seen on the footage], who seems to have deliberately made his aircraft seen [to the drone's on-board camera] by flying beneath the drone prior to the attack [the camera is attached beneath the drone’s fuselage and the area above the drone is not captured by the drone's camera].”
Georgian officials said that the fighter jet was captured on camera only because a first missile fired by the jet missed the drone, which has a small engine that, they said, made it a difficult target for a heat-seeking missile. The pilot apparently decided to approach closer for a second shot, the Georgian officials said, and flew near enough for the plane to be filmed by the drone before it was destroyed.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also said that “according to experts” the missile fired by the fighter jet was launched from a pylon attached to the edge of the wing. “MIG-29 fighter jets in the possession of the Russian air force do not have their pylons attached to the edges of the wings,” it said.
It also claimed that an air-to-air missile does not create a white smoke trail after it has been launched, as is seen on the footage. Usually, a white smoke trail results from a land-to-air missile launch, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“This is not a full list of inconsistencies in the obviously edited video footage,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. It added that the footage did not give “a clear picture of when and where the video was recorded.”
“If watched carefully, one can clearly see two roads parallel to the shoreline,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “But there aren't such roads in the indicated area of Abkhazia’s coast. Abkhazia's famous sand beaches - 100 meters in width - are not seen in the footage, even though they can be seen by satellite.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry reiterated its contention that the drone had been shot down by an L-39 aircraft of the Abkhaz air force. It also restated its position that the drone's presence over the conflict zone was a violation of the 1994 Moscow agreement on ceasefire and separation of forces. Tbilisi, however, has said that the flight did not violate the agreement because the drone was unarmed.