Georgian spy planes downed, claims breakaway republic

By RIA Novosti,

Moscow : Georgia’s breakaway republic Abkhazia has claimed amid escalating tension and military build up along the border that it shot down two Georgian surveillance planes over its territory.

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“The planes were flying at an altitude of 7,000 metres and were downed by our air defence system,” presidential envoy Ruslan Kishmariya told RIA Novosti Sunday.

Abkhazia’s defence minister Merab Kishmariya confirmed that two planes had been shot down. He previously said that only one drone had been downed.

The Georgian foreign ministry called Abkhazia’s claims “absurd” and said they were aimed at escalating tensions in the region.

The Abkhaz defence minister Sunday said the government had put its troops along the Georgian border on maximum alert after Tbilisi mobilised 7,500 troops.

Abkhazia, alongside another Georgian breakaway republic South Ossetia, broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Between 10,000 and 30,000 people were killed in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict and some 3,000 in Georgian-South Ossetian hostilities. Georgia is looking to regain control over the two de facto independent republics.

Tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi have been escalating rapidly since Russia’s outgoing President Vladimir Putin called for closer ties between Moscow and the two breakaway republics in mid-April.