Evidence based on which UN observers concluded that the Georgian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over Abkhazia was shot down by the Russian fighter jet, are questionable, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on May 27.
“We do not mean to question competence of specialists from the UNOMIG. It is about partiality of evidence on which the entire investigation [by UNOMIG] was built – video footage and data from certain radars,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Moscow has claimed that footage transmitted from the drone’s on-board camera before it was shot down, was fabricated. The Russian Foreign Ministry also said on May 27 that the Georgian air radar data, which was used by the UNOMIG investigation, “do not coincide with those available for us.”
In its statement the Russian Foreign Ministry focuses more on the part of the UNOMIG’s report, which notes that “a reconnaissance mission by a military aircraft, whether manned or unmanned, constituted “military action” and therefore contravened the Moscow Agreement [on ceasefire and separation of forces].”
“This very flight [of the drone on April 20] was a root cause of the incident [downing] itself,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “Unfortunately, the Georgian side instead of stopping provocations involving flights of UAV, it increased number of [UAV’s flights]. These flights took a systematic nature, which only increase tensions in the conflict zone… It is important UNOMIG to continue investigation of root cause of the problem.”
Sokhumi claims that it shot down Georgia’s seven Israeli-produced unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) – Hermes 450 since March. Tbilisi has confirmed downing of only one of its UAVs on April 20.
UNOMIG said in its conclusions that during the investigation the Abkhaz side provided its experts with access to the debris collected from the incidents of March 18, April 20 and May 12. The report also notes that although the Abkhaz side claims it has downed 7 UAVs in the period between March 18 – and May 12, UNOMIG can confirm only the debris from the incidents on March 18, April 20 and May 12 to be from Hermes 450.