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Tskhinvali threatens to shoot down Georgian drones

By Mzia Kupunia
Wednesday, November 17
The de facto South Ossetian authorities threatened on Tuesday to “shoot down” all Georgian drones, which “violate airspace of the Republic.” The de facto Defence Minister of South Ossetia, Valery Yakhnovets made the statement following the alleged entrance of a Georgian unmanned drone into the de facto republic’s air space on last week. “South Ossetia is a recognised sovereign state and according to international law nobody has the right to invade our territory,” information agency RES quoted the de facto Defence Minister as saying.

De facto South Ossetian law enforcers reported on the alleged “violation of airspace” on November 14, saying that the Georgian unmanned drone entered the de facto South Ossetian territory to “carry out spying activities” there.

Tskhinvali has claimed that Georgian unmanned drones “regularly violate the airspace of South Ossetia.” “Such cases are happening 4 to 8 times a month on average,” Yakhnovets told journalists, noting that the last case of “airspace infringement” was recorded on November 10. “If the Georgian side thinks that they need to send their drones here, let them send them, however we will consider necessary to shoot them down. Anything that violates the border - an unmanned drone or any other flying apparatus - will be shot down,” the de facto South Ossetian Defence Minister declared.

Meanwhile the de facto South Ossetian Interior Ministry issued an appeal to NATO and its member states on the case of the alleged “violation of airspace” by the Georgian drone. In its statement, the de facto Ministry said it is “yet another provocation from the Georgian side, coinciding with the 56th session of NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Warsaw.” “Attempts to get attention [from the Western states] before or during an important international event have become a tradition for Georgia’s ruling regime,” the statement reads.

Georgian officials have downplayed the claims of the de facto South Ossetian authorities. Head of the Interior Ministry Analytical Department, Shota Utiashvili has denied Tskhinvali’s accusations, saying that no Georgian drones are flying in the territory of the de facto republic. “Russian unmanned drones are flying there all the time, we will be even thankful if they [de facto South Ossetian authorities] shoot them down,” Utiashvili told The Messenger.

Earlier on Monday the Georgian Foreign Ministry said that Georgia has the right to fly drones over its own territories. “We do not have information whether Georgian unmanned drones actually carried out a flight in Tskhinvali or not, however it is a Georgian territory and if something like is really happening, Georgia has sovereign right to do so,” Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister, Nino Kalandadze said in response to the de facto Defence Minister’s allegation.