Russia is facing another accusation involving airspace violation—this time from Georgia. Last month, Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 fighter jet for violating its airspace despite repeated warnings. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu refused to apologize for the downing of the Russian fighter jet citing the reason that they have the right to protect their airspace. He said “No country should ask us to apologize.”
According to the Foreign Ministry of Georgia, a Russian military helicopter violated the country’s airspace on Thursday and perceived the incident as a threat to regional stability.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry of Georgia said an unmanned aerial vehicle from Russia illegally deployed in the occupied Tskhinvali region violated the airspace controlled by the Georgian central authorities on December 9.
Russia’s unmanned aerial vehicle flew over the checkpoints of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia particularly in the villages of the Gori district, Koshka, and Gugutiantkari.
The following day, December 10, Russia’s Mi-8 military helicopter also illegally deployed in the occupied Tskhinvali region violated the airspace controlled by the Georgian central authorities. The helicopter flew over the police building in the village of Mereti, Gori municipality.
Georgia says Russia is defying the international law
The Foreign Ministry of Georgia emphasized that the actions of Russia is provocative and directed against the sovereign state. Its actions also provide further proof regarding Russia’s “defiance of the fundamental norms and principles of international law.”
The Georgian government is urging the Russian government to comply with its commitments under international law including August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement.
Russia denies violating Georgia’s airspace
In response, the Defense Ministry of Russia denied violating Georgia’s airspace.
“Russian military helicopters have not carried out flights over territory bordering on Georgia in the past 24 hours,” said Major General Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry. He added that the Georgian government based its accusations from unconfirmed reports by “some local witnesses.”
“We would recommend to our Georgian colleagues next time they make such claims they should rely on data provided by objective monitoring means, radars, in particular.”
Russia boosts military presence around Turkey
Meanwhile, media outlets in Turkey are concerned that Russia is boosting its military presence around the country after the downing of the Russian fighter jet operating in Syria on November 24.
The Russian Air Force already armed its Su-34 fighter jets with short and medium-range air-to-air missiles for defensive purposes. The missiles have target-seeking devices capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 60 kilometers.
The Hurriyet Daily News in Turkey reported that Russia deployed 14 helicopters to the Erebuni Air Base in Armenia on December 8. Seven were Mi-24 attack helicopters, and the rest were Mi-8 model transport helicopters.
Additionally, the Russian government deployed a submarine called “Rostov-on-Don” to the Mediterranean Sea, where it maintains a naval based in Tartus. The submarine is armed with Caliber cruise missiles.
Russia previously sent two submarines and the Moskva cruiser that carries air defense systems to the Eastern Mediterranean. Furthermore, the media outlet noted that the Russian government has approximately 55 fighter jets at the Hmeymim Air Base outside Latakia, one of the strongholds of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Turkey will respond to Russia’s provocation
Turkey recently accused Russia of provocation after a serviceman on the deck of its naval ship passing through the Turkish territory, was seen holding a rocket launcher on his shoulder. Turkey emphasized that it would respond to a threatening situation.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, said, “For a Russian soldier to display a rocket launcher or something similar while passing on a Russian warship is a provocation. If we perceive a threatening situation, we will give the necessary response.”
Turkey formally summoned the Russian Ambassador and formally expressed its outrage regarding the incident. On the other hand, Russia’s envoy to NATO, Alexander Grushko warned the alliance against reinforcing the air defenses of Ankara. Grushko said Moscow think that such move “strictly correspond to the task of neutralizing possible challenges from terrorist organizations.”
“If, by the NATO efforts, Turkey tries to contain Russia, this will be an obstacle to the establishment of an international coalition against terrorism,” said Grushko. He made his comments in respond to reports that NATO allies are considering sending patrol aircraft and patrol missiles to Turkey.