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Georgia denounces Russian 'harassment'

  • Story Highlights
  • Georgia claims Russia is "harassing" it over breakaway regions
  • Simmering tensions due to be discussed before U.N. Security Council
  • Russia accused of shooting down Georgian unmanned spy plane
  • Alleged incident took place in skies above breakaway Abkhazia region
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(CNN) -- Former Soviet state Georgia Wednesday accused Moscow of "harassment" for allegedly shooting down of one its spy planes, escalating tensions between the two countries ahead of a U.N. Security Council meeting.

The closed door meeting follows claims by Russia that Georgia had violated U.N. resolutions in using drone spy planes to track developments in the breakaway region of Abkhazia.

Georgia has accused Russia of "military aggression," claiming that a Russian jet shot down one of the unmanned planes over Abkhazia.

"Just because we are (a) small nation, Russia doesn't have any right to oppress us and to harass Georgia," Georgia's Deputy Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze told CNN on Wednesday.

"This fact of shooting down the plane is just a small demonstration of Russia's aggression against Georgia," Baramidze said.

Tensions have been escalating between Georgia's pro-Western government and Russia, which is providing assistance to Abkhazia and another breakaway region, South Ossetia.

Georgian forces fought separatists in Abkhazia before the ceasefire was negotiated more than a decade ago.

Last week, Moscow formalized relations with the territories and withdrew trade sanctions while expanding "trade, economic, social, scientific and technical, information, cultural, and educational" contacts with them, Russia's Itar-Tass news agency reported.

Baramidze accused Moscow of trying to "incorporate" the separatist regions back into Russia. Georgia is a former Soviet Republic. Video Watch Bartamidze call for action. »

Georgia's U.N. Ambassador, Irakli Alasania, appealed for international assistance on Monday.

"We call upon the United Nations to address this direct military aggression against Georgia and to fully exploit its own means and capabilities in order to keep the situation from further escalation," he said.

In the alleged shootdown of the Georgian unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, the Georgian air force released a video that is says shows a twin-tailed Russian MiG-29 opening fire.

The video -- shot by the drone on Sunday, Georgia says -- shows a jet fighter firing a missile that streaks through the sky, trailed by a column of white smoke. The missile gets closer and closer and then suddenly the screen goes blank.

"The radar shows that the MiG-29 took off from Gudauta in Abkhazia, Georgia. It is absolutely illegal for a Russian MiG-29 to be there," Col. David Nairashvili, Georgia's air force commander, said. "The MiG-29 flies south, shoots down the Georgian UAV and then flies north crossing into Russian territory."

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  • Georgia accuses Russia of downing plane

Without addressing the question of whether a Russian fighter flew over Georgian territory, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was surprised by Georgian military flights over Abkhazia, Itar-Tass reported Tuesday.

In a phone call with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on Monday, Putin expressed "bewilderment over the very fact of military flights performed by the Georgian side over the conflict zone and stressed that this contradicts the letter and the spirit of the Moscow ceasefire and disengagement agreement of May 14, 1994," the news agency said.

Despite a deteriorating relationship with Russia, Baramidze remained hopeful ahead of Wednesday's Security Council meeting.

"We are absolutely open for dialogue with Russia, because, in fact, we don't want the confrontation with Russia," he said.


Baramidze noted common interests of Georgia and Russia, including fighting terrorism, organized crime and separatist republics.

As a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia has the power to veto any resolution with which it disagrees. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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