U.N. council to discuss Georgia-Russia dispute
( Reuters ) - The U.N. Security Council agreed on Monday to a Georgian request to hold a special meeting this week in the latest crisis between Tbilisi and Moscow over the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia.
The request, submitted last week, gained extra momentum after Tbilisi accused Russia of shooting down an unmanned Georgian reconnaissance plane at the weekend.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters after consultations among the 15 council members that a private meeting would be held on Wednesday afternoon.
Georgia's Foreign Ministry said a Russian air force jet had shot down the drone over Abkhazia on Sunday. The Russian air force denied the allegation.
Georgia's U.N. Ambassador Irakli Alasania said his country's foreign minister, David Bakradze, planned to attend the council session and present evidence of the attack.
Churkin said he had urged the council that an Abkhazian representative also be allowed to attend. "We think that this is not right that for a number of years when this situation ... has been discussed with the Security Council the Abkhazian side has never been allowed to speak," he said.
Alasania dismissed claims by Abkhazia's separatist administration that its forces had shot down the drone, saying Tbilisi had clear evidence a Russian jet was responsible.
Abkhazia, on the Black Sea coast, is internationally recognized as part of Georgia. It has been controlled by Moscow-backed separatists since a war in the early 1990s.
Tbilisi last week accused Moscow of a de facto annexation of Abkhazia, and a second breakaway Georgia region of South Ossetia, after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government to establish closer ties with the separatists.
Alasania said the Russian move "means that they are effectively annexing parts of my country."
He said Russia, which maintains a peacekeeping force in the region, had "crossed the 'red line' and completely discredited itself as a facilitator of the conflict settlement."
The United Nations also has about 150 military observers and police in Georgia.
"Clearly what we're going to bring up at the Security Council is that we want to have new arrangements in the peace format," Alasania said.