A Russian military helicopter apparently violated Georgian airspace Thursday, weeks after a Russian warplane breached Turkish skies before being shot down. The Georgian Defense Ministry told reporters in Tbilisi: "[A] Russian helicopter crossed the line of occupation, and a few minutes later came back,” Russian news agency Oxu.Az reported, citing Interfax.
The ministry did not specify exactly where the incident occurred, but said it has informed the commission on incident prevention and response. This is not the first time Tbilisi has accused Moscow of violating its airspace. A Russian Mi-8 combat helicopter allegedly breached Georgia-controlled skies near the border with South Ossetia Aug. 19, while conducting military exercises. The Georgian Foreign Ministry called the incident “provocative in nature and posing a threat to security and stability in the region,” Russia Beyond the Headline reported.
Tbilisi accuses Moscow of violating Georgian airspace http://t.co/wNAUeNE4UQ
— RBTH (@russiabeyond) August 20, 2015
The latest reported incident comes just weeks after Turkey shot down a Russian Su-25 fighter jet for allegedly violating Turkish airspace near the Syrian border. The Russian military has been conducting airstrikes in Syria apart from the U.S.-led coalition targeting the so-called Islamic State militant group in the Middle Eastern country. Russian President Vladimir Putin denied any airspace violation and warned the Nov. 24 incident will have “significant consequences” for Moscow-Ankara relations.
"This event is beyond the normal framework of fighting against terrorism. Of course our military is doing heroic work against terrorism. ... But the loss today is a stab in the back, carried out by the accomplices of terrorists. I can’t describe it in any other way,” Putin said, according to the Guardian. "Neither our pilots nor our jet threatened the territory of Turkey. This is obvious.”
The Georgian Defense Ministry backed Turkey, saying Ankara has every right to respond to airspace breaches by Russia. “Violation of an independent, sovereign state's airspace is the same violation as if entering with tanks. There is not much difference. Countries have every right to respond to those violations,” Georgian Defense Minister Tinatin Khidasheli told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency Nov. 28, noting Russia had deliberately violated NATO and EU airspace in recent months despite repeated warnings. “I think that would be a good experience for Russians to know that those kinds of activities don't go on unpunished,” she added.