TBILISI (Reuters) - Georgia said on Friday it had given up trying to persuade Russia to accept responsibility for dropping a missile on Georgian soil this month and asked foreign governments to intervene.
A delegation of Russian officials, at the end of a two-day fact-finding visit, rejected Georgian claims the missile was dropped by a Russian plane and repeated allegations the incident had been fabricated by Tbilisi.
“Unfortunately, the Russian side has not been constructive and has, in effect, turned its back on cooperating in the investigation,” said Batu Kutelia, Georgia’s deputy defence minister.
“The prospects for consulting with Russia on this issue have been exhausted and Georgia now awaits from the international community a political assessment of this violation of Georgia’s airspace.”
The missile landed in a farmer’s field about 65 km from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. It did not explode.
The incident worsened relations between Tbilisi and Moscow, that had already been in crisis since Georgia began pulling out of Moscow’s orbit and seeking membership of NATO and the European Union.
Experts invited by Georgia to look into the incident said on Wednesday an unidentified plane from Russia dropped the missile.
The Russian delegation said Georgia had presented no proof the missile was dropped by a Russian aircraft. It accused Georgia of destroying or concealing evidence.
Valery Keniakin, a Russian foreign ministry special envoy for ex-Soviet states who was part of the delegation, said the missile incident was a symptom of a broader political problem.
”If Georgia continues trying to worsen its relations with Russia ... on other major issues -- (Georgia‘s) Euro-Atlantic integration, its special relations with the West -- then Georgia will continue to invent these incidents in the future.
“If Georgia reaches the conclusion that it needs to have a balanced relationship with Russia, then the situation will change,” he told a news conference.