August 24, 2007

Georgia fired a foreing plane

Georgian forces fired at a plane they believed was Russian after it violated the Caucasus republic's airspace. The incident marks an intensification of a row between the two countries in which Georgia has accused Russian planes of violating its border and of dropping a missile near Tbilisi. Russia called the Georgian statement a provocation. It has not reported any plane missing, and when asked specifically about the Georgian statement an official denied Russian aircraft had violated Georgian airspace.

The row over aircraft has highlighted a crisis in relations between Russia and Georgia, which has been deepening since U.S.-educated President Mikhail Saakashvili began moving his republic of five million people out of Moscow's orbit. Russia last year severed air, sea and postal links with its southern neighbor over a spying row. Before that, Moscow had banned imports of Georgian wine and mineral water, both major sources of revenue, citing health concerns. The missile incident has had repercussions beyond the region, turning into an irritant in ties between Russia and the United States.

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