Well, the Abkhaz folks say they shot it down with their own aircraft, which is a jet model. It’s hard to say whether it was a Mig 29 or not, though the footage doesn’t look like the Abkhaz model. They also say the plane took off from the Abkhaz territory, so it’s possible that the Russians have given the Abkhaz some Mig 29’s. I’d note that the UN peacekeepers aren’t saying anything about this either.
There’s also the question of whether the Georgians were violating the ceasefire by flying the drone in the first place.
That said, this whole situation is part of the consequence for what happened in Kosovo. Abkhaz is majority population of Russian, so it’s hard to tell them they have to be part of Georgia.
The “Abkhaz military” is effectively the Russian military, unless you buy into the convienent fiction that a breakaway renegade Caucasus mountain region has its own well-equipped modern air force.
Besides the Yak-52, aircraft operated by the Abkhaz Air Force during the civil war reportedly included at least a pair each of Sukhoi Su-25 (NATO reporting name: “Frogfoot”) and Su-27 (“Flanker”) fighters and two or more L-39 Albatros jet trainers, as well as a few Mil Mi-8 (“Hip”) helicopters and several other unidentified light aircraft. However, the Russians flew numerous sorties in support of the Abkhazians and it is unclear which of these aircraft were truly Abkhazian-operated. (There are also claims that Russian aircrew were instructed to cover up the national insignia on their aircraft and then flew raids against Georgian positions.) The sophisticated Su-27s in particular appear to have been operated only by the Russians, not the Abkhazians.
I’m certainly not denying that it could very well be a Russian flown plane (though it’s hard to say how you would define that since the Abkhaz folks are mostly Russian citizens anyway). But, if they have people capable of flying jet trainers, it doesn’t take much to go from there to flying high performance fighters, especially since it’s been 15 years since the civil war. There’s been plenty of time for the Abkhaz forces to have been equipped/supported by more Russian equipment. However, since the Abkhazi’s are claiming it was shot down by a L-39 trainer, who knows.
Again, though, I want to hear what the UN folks on the ground in Abkhaz think and I want to hear whether flying the drone was a violation of the ceasefire. If it was, it’s hard to feel bad for the Georgians, who after all didn’t lose anyone in this.
On a side note, anyone know where the airport in Abkhazi is? I was trying to look for it on Google Earth and don’t see one.
I guess what I’m saying is that since the Georgians and Russians aren’t getting along, I’m not going to necessarily believe either side’s story.
That would be a much more valid comparison if the Georgians had oppressed and tried throwing out all the Russians. Instead, it was the Georgians who have been ethnically cleansed from the country by the Russians.
Of course, the Russians play a dangerous game given all the minorities still in Russia. Do they really want Chechnya’s all over?
Yeah, but the sad reality is that once people are forced out, they rarely end up coming back. It’s pretty unrealistic to think that will happen in this case unless the Abkhazian’s are forced out, which won’t happen as long as Russia supports them.
And it’s very unlikely that NATO will allow Georgia to join as long as the Abkhazia issue remains unresolved.
Which is precisely why Russia is stirring up Abkhazia (and South Ossetia), to keep Georgia destabilized and in the long term outside of the Western orbit. They see the Caucasus as within their sphere of influence (the “near abroad” in Russian terms) and have done all manner of mischief to ensure it remains that way.
Without overt Russian support Abkhazia (and Ossetia, and Transdniestria, etc. etc.) would collapse. They’re supported by FSB money and Russian military grants.