2007 Georgia helicopter incident

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Location of the Kodori Gorge. Abkhazia Kodori Valley.PNG
Location of the Kodori Gorge.

The 2007 Georgia helicopter incident refers to the accusation [1] by Georgia that three Russian helicopters fired on the Kodori Gorge in Abkhazia on March 11, 2007. It was a break-away autonomous republic in north-western Georgia (at that time, [2] the Kodori Gorge was the only portion of Abkhazia still under Georgia's control.) The attack was at the village of Chkhalta, which damaged a school, [3] and the government headquarters of the Georgian-backed Abkhaz government-in-exile. [4] Russia denied any attacks and said all its aircraft near the area were grounded over the weekend.

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Georgia

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili held an emergency meeting after the alleged incident and told the Security Council that the incident created a grave situation and constituted "a very dangerous, serious and far-reaching provocation" but he stopped short of pointing the finger at Russia directly. He said that he didn't "want to make accusations against one particular side. The [Georgian] foreign minister has received instructions to contact his Russian counterpart and firmly demand that Russia react to this situation." [5]

On March 14, Nikoloz Rurua, the then deputy chairman of the Georgian parliament's Committee for Defense and Security, did point the finger at Russia as he said that the helicopters came from Russian territory. [3] He further said that the "helicopters, preliminarily identified as Mi-24 attack gunships, flew [into the Kodori Gorge] from Russian territory or, to be precise, from the territory of Kabardino-Balkaria. They made a circle above the villages of Upper Abkhazia, and as they were making a second circle they dropped about 20 unguided rockets, or so-called NURS (Russian-made unguided) rockets." Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Eka Sguladze made similar allegations in remarks to foreign diplomats that day.

Russia

The deputy commander of Russia's ground forces, Lieutenant General Valery Yevnevich responded that helicopters could not have flown over the Caucasus mountain range. Yevnevich said:

"From the Russian side, it is impossible for helicopters to find a passage to fly through because of the high mountains. Mount Elbrus is over 5,000 meters high. Helicopters cannot fly over the Caucasus mountain range for technical reasons."

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin added that Russia was investigating the circumstances of the shooting, but noted that the air force said it did not conduct flights in the area at the time. [5]

Abkhazia

Abkhazia’s leader Sergei Bagapsh denied such incident. [5]

United Nations

A quadripartite Joint Fact-Finding Group (JFFG) was convened to investigate the incident. The JFFG, headed by the UN Observer Mission in Georgia, also involved representatives of Russian peacekeepers, and both the Georgian and Abkhaz sides. The interim report was released on April 2, 2007, followed by a supplementary report on June 13. [6] The report was inconclusive, but it confirmed that "helicopters used multiple approaches from the north" to reach the upper Kodori Gorge. It also ruled out the possibility of Georgia's involvement in the incident. [7]

Aftermath

Georgia accused Russia of a similar incident in August 2007 when a missile was allegedly fired upon Georgian soil, which was denied by Russia. Georgia pressed the UN Security Council to look into both the helicopter and the missile incident. [8]

On August 22, 2007, a plane downing incident took place that involved the downing by Georgia's anti-aircraft system, of a military plane that violated Georgia's air space. Abkhazia's break-away government stated that a plane was crashed by itself, and rejected that it was shot down. [9] [10]

Related Research Articles

Kodori Valley Valley in Abkhasia

The Kodori Valley, also known as the Kodori Gorge, is a river valley in Abkhazia, Georgia's breakaway autonomous republic. The valley's upper part, populated by Svans, was the only corner of the post-1993 Abkhazia, directly controlled by the central Georgian government, which since 2006 officially styles the area as Upper Abkhazia. On August 12, 2008, Russo–Abkhazian forces gained control of the Upper Kodori Valley, previously controlled by Georgia.

Abkhaz–Georgian conflict Georgian–Abkhazian conflict

The Abkhaz–Georgian conflict involves ethnic conflict between Georgians and the Abkhaz people in Abkhazia, a de facto independent, partially recognized republic. In a broader sense, one can view the Georgian–Abkhaz conflict as part of a geopolitical conflict in the Caucasus region, intensified at the end of the 20th century with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The 2006 Kodori crisis erupted in late July 2006 in Abkhazia's Kodori Gorge, when a local militia leader declared his opposition to the Government of Georgia, which sent police forces to disarm the rebels. The upper part of the Kodori Gorge was at that time the only portion of Abkhazia, Georgia's breakaway republic, not controlled by the Abkhaz authorities.

Emzar Kvitsiani Georgian warlord

Emzar Kvitsiani is a former Georgian military commander and warlord active in Abkhazia's Kodori valley, which he ran de facto through his militia from 1992 until being ousted by the Georgian government forces in 2006. He fled to Russia, but, in 2014, he was arrested on his return to Georgia, initially sentenced to 16 years in jail, and then released under a plea bargain in early 2015. He is now one of the leaders of the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia.

Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia

The Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia is an administration recognized by Georgia as the legal and only government of Abkhazia. Abkhazia has been de facto independent of Georgia – though with very little international recognition – since the early 1990s. Ruslan Abashidze, elected in May 2019, is the current head of the government-in-exile.

Upper Abkhazia Temporary administrative unit in Georgia

Upper Abkhazia is a term introduced in 2006, to denote the northeastern part of the disputed territory of Abkhazia, that had remained under Georgian control after the 1992 War in Abkhazia. From September 2006 to August 2008 its main village, Chkhalta, hosted the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia and was the seat of the Azhara municipal community. This situation came to an end in the Battle of the Kodori Valley in August 2008, when Upper Abkhazia was conquered by the Russo-Abkhazia armies, which had already controlled the rest of Abkhazia.

Georgia–Russia relations Diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia

The relations between Georgia and Russia date back hundreds of years and remain complicated despite certain religious and historical ties that exist between the two countries and their people. The first formal alliance between Georgia and Russia took place in 1783 when king Heraclius II of Eastern Georgia (Kartli-Kakheti) signed the Treaty of Georgievsk with the Russian Empire, which the Georgian monarchy viewed as a replacement for its long-lost Orthodox ally, the Eastern Roman Empire.

War in Abkhazia (1992–1993) War in Abkhazia from 1992 to 1993

The War in Abkhazia from 1992 to 1993 was fought between Georgian government forces for the most part, and Abkhaz separatist forces, Soviet Russian government armed forces and North Caucasian militants. Ethnic Georgians who lived in Abkhazia fought largely on the side of Georgian government forces. Ethnic Armenians and Russians within Abkhazia's population largely supported the Abkhazians, and many fought on their side. The separatists received support from thousands of North Caucasus and Cossack militants and from the Russian Federation forces stationed in and near Abkhazia.

Abkhazian Armed Forces Military of Abkhazia

The Abkhazian Armed Forces are the military of Abkhazia.

The 2007 Georgia missile incident refers to the landing of a missile in the Georgian village of Tsitelubani in the Gori district near the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone, some 65 km (40 mi) north-west of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, on 7 August 2007. Georgian officials said that two Russian combat aircraft violated its airspace and fired a missile, which fell on the edge of a village but did not explode. Russia denied this allegation and said that Georgia may have fired the missile on its own territory as a way of provoking tensions in the region. Several expert teams were sent to Georgia to investigate the incident. While two international investigation teams confirmed Georgia's claims, the Russian team dismissed them. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) stated that it was "extremely difficult to have a clear picture", given the conflicting nature of the experts' findings. The organization decided not to launch its own probe into the incident. The Portuguese ambassador to the OSCE has issued a statement on behalf of the EU, which refrained from supporting either Georgian or Russian version of the events.

The 2007 Georgia plane downing incident refers to the possible downing, by Georgia's anti-aircraft system, of a military plane that violated Georgia's air space on August 21, 2007. It is still not confirmed by Georgia whether the plane was downed. Abkhazia's break-away government stated that a plane crashed, and rejected the claim that it was shot down.

The 2007 Bokhundjara incident refers to a skirmish that occurred between Georgia and its breakaway republic of Abkhazia near the border with Georgia proper on September 20, 2007, between Georgian Interior Ministry commandos and Abkhaz forces. The United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) launched an independent investigation of the incident. On October 11, 2007, it released a progress report, confirming the incident took place on Abkhaz-controlled territory at the foot of Mount Bokhundjara, thus confirming the Abkhaz version of the event. On October 27, 2007, Georgia released the arrested Abkhazians and handed them over to the U.N. observers as a "sign of good will."

2001 Kodori crisis

The 2001 Kodori crisis was a confrontation in the Kodori Valley, Abkhazia, in October 2001 between Georgians and Abkhazian forces. The crisis was largely neglected by the world media, which was focused on the concurrent US attack on Afghanistan. The fighting resulted in the deaths of at least 40 people.

2007 in Georgia saw a number of military incidents involving Georgia and Russia over the Abkhazia area. Abkhazia is a partially recognised state within Georgia's territory. In March, Georgia accused Russia of attacking the Kodori Valley in Upper Abkhazia, which was the only area in Abkhazia that Georgia controlled. Russia denied the claims, saying that their aircraft in the area were grounded at the time. In August, Georgia claimed that Russia fired a missile into Georgia. This claim was confirmed by 2 investigation teams but challenged by a Russian investigation team. Also in August, Georgia claimed it shot down Russian aircraft that were in Georgia's airspace over the Georgia-controlled Upper Abkhazia area. Russia denied this claim and Abkhazia said that it was an American or Georgian aircraft that crashed in Abkhazia. Abkhazia also held elections that were not recognised by any countries. The president was Mikheil Saakashvili, who stepped down in November to run in the 2008 elections, which he won, again becoming president and replacing Nino Burjanadze who had been acting president since he stepped down.

An international diplomatic crisis between Georgia and Russia began in 2008, when Russia announced that it would no longer participate in the Commonwealth of Independent States economic sanctions imposed on Abkhazia in 1996 and established direct relations with the separatist authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The crisis was linked to the push for Georgia to receive a NATO Membership Action Plan and, indirectly, the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo.

Russo-Georgian War 2008 war between Russia and Georgia in South Ossetia

The Russo-Georgian War was a war between Georgia, Russia and the Russian-backed self-proclaimed republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The war took place in August 2008 following a period of worsening relations between Russia and Georgia, both formerly constituent republics of the Soviet Union. The fighting took place in the strategically important Transcaucasia region. It was regarded as the first European war of the 21st century.

Battle of the Kodori Valley battle in the Russo-Georgian War

The Battle of the Kodori Valley was a military operation during the Russo-Georgian War in the Upper Kodori Valley of Abkhazia, a breakaway region of Georgia. It was the only part of Abkhazia under Georgian control before this military conflict. On 9 August 2008, the Abkhaz military, with support by Russian forces, launched an operation to remove the remaining Georgian troops from the disputed gorge. After three days, the Georgian military left the Upper Kodori Valley.

Abkhazia Autonomous territory in northwestern Georgia

Abkhazia is a de facto sovereign state that is internationally recognized as an autonomous republic of Georgia. It lies in the South Caucasus on the eastern coast of the Black Sea, south of the Greater Caucasus mountains in northwestern Georgia. It covers 8,660 square kilometres (3,340 sq mi) and has a population of around 240,000. It is called Аԥсны́ [apʰsˈnɨ] in Abkhazian, აფხაზეთი [ɑpʰxɑzɛtʰi] in Georgian, and Абха́зия [ɐˈpxazʲɪjə] in Russian. Its capital is Sukhumi.

The War in Abkhazia from 1992 to 1993 was waged chiefly between Georgian government forces on one side, Russian military forces on other side supporting separatist forces demanding independence of Abkhazia from Georgia. http://www.historyorb.com/russia/georgia.php Ethnic Georgians, who lived in Abkhazia fought largely on the side of Georgian government forces. Ethnic Armenians and Russians within Abkhazia's population, largely supported Abkhazians and many fought on their side. The separatists were supported by thousands of the North Caucasus and Cossack militants and by the Russian Federation forces stationed in and near Abkhazia.

References

  1. "Georgia Says Helicopters From Russia Attacked Gorge" in Radio Free Europe , March 12, 2007, Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine
  2. It has since been lost at the Battle of the Kodori Valley
  3. 1 2 "Georgian Official Says Kodori Attack Came From Russia" in Radio Free Europe , March 14, 2007,
  4. Molly Corso, "Georgia: Kodori attack - fresh cause for conflict", March 19, 2007,
  5. 1 2 3 "Georgia Says Helicopters From Russia Attacked Gorge". Radio Free Europe . Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  6. Joint Fact-Finding Group Report on the Rocket Firing Incident in the upper Kodori valley on 11 March 2007 Archived 10 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine . JFFG Report Annexes Archived 2007-11-27 at the Wayback Machine . United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia. June 13, 2007.
  7. UNOMIG Report on Kodori Attack. Civil Georgia. July 12, 2007.
  8. "Experts Confirm Jet Entered Georgian Airspace From Russia" in Radio Free Europe , August 16, 2007,
  9. "Pro-Russian Abkhazia says Georgian plane crashed". 25 August 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2018 via Reuters.
  10. "Georgia overflight dispute deepens". www.AlJazeera.com. Retrieved 19 January 2018.