Russian planes have not violated Georgia's airspace, Russian ambassador Yuri Popov said Wednesday.
"I can say Russian aircraft were not involved in the incident in Georgia's airspace ... Now it is unknown whose plane it was. But I'm 100-percent convinced that no Russian aircraft penetrated Georgia's territory," Popov was quoted by the Itar-Tass news agency as saying by telephone.
The Russian diplomat is currently in the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali to investigate the incident on Monday.
Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Ustiashvili said earlier on Tuesday that two Russian fighter jets on Monday evening "violated Georgian airspace and dropped a rocket near the Tsitelubani settlement" that did not explode and caused no casualties.
Pravda.Ru has asked Ariel Cohen, Senior Research Fellow, the Heritage Foundation, to comment the present day situation around relations between Russia and Georgia.
There is still lack of clarity in terms of who and how delivered the missile. Was it fired or jettisoned, and why it did not explode? If it is proven that a Russian air force jet was deliberately targeting a Georgian radar station near Gori, it sure looks like an act of aggression. I am sure NATO experts will be glad to help the Georgians to sort it out.
As for the Russian-Georgian relations, they have been very unhappy for many years since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is like a bad divorce after a long and rocky marriage. Measures taken by Moscow against Georgia as a state and the Georgians as people, including attempts to kick out Georgian kids from Moscow schools last fall, arrest Georgian guest workers or businessmen, or boycott Georgian wine and mineral water, were viewed in Europe and US as harsh and brutal. This is not how a strong power should treat a small and weak neighbor.
Still, with EU and US support, and with free market economic policy, Georgia's internal situation is improving. Russia would gain a lot of goodwill in Georgia if it truly recognized its territorial integrity and sovereignty and stopped supporting secessionist forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In the long run, it is also Russia who would also benefit from good relations with its neighbors, says Ariel Cohen.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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