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Moscow Says Tbilisi Behind Air Raid

Russia has pointed the finger at Tbilisi, suggesting that the August 6 air strike near breakaway South Ossetia was masterminded by Georgia to sabotage South Ossetia peace talks in the framework of the Joint Control Commission (JCC).

Georgia claims Russian attack aircraft, presumed to be SU-24s, violated Georgia’s airspace and then fired an air-to-surface guided rocket onto Georgian territory in the Shida Kartli region in the South Ossetian conflict zone.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, however, said in a statement on August 7, that it was not an SU-24, but an SU-25 Frogfoot attack aircraft which had been involved in the incident. Unlike SU-24s, SU-25s are used by the Georgian airforce.

?Provocations are being staged every time there is a chance to hold a session of the JCC with the aim of demonstrating the ineffectiveness of the existing negotiating and peacekeeping mechanisms in which the Russian side is involved,? the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

A meeting of the quadripartite Joint Control Commission (JCC), involving negotiators from the Georgian, South Ossetian, Russian and Russia?s North Ossetian sides, was scheduled for August 9-10 in Tbilisi. However, it was aborted before the August 6 attack. The South Ossetian side refused to participate in talks in Tbilisi, citing security concerns. Tskhinvali wanted the Russian embassy as the venue, while the Georgian side proposed the OSCE mission?s headquarters in Tbilisi.

Tskhinvali?s refusal to participate, regardless of its reasoning, unwittingly gave Tbilisi the diplomatic upper-hand in a row with Russia over the negotiating format. While Moscow wants to maintain the present negotiating format, Tbilisi has been pushing for its replacement for some time. Russian chief negotiator, Yuri Popov, arrived in Georgia on August 6 in an attempt to arrange the meeting.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also said that it wanted an immediate investigation into the August 6 incident. ?We are sure that the investigation? will reveal the real organizers and players of these very dangerous games.?

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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