Abkhazia said on May 4 that it had shot down two Georgian surveillance drones over its territory. Tbilisi dismissed the allegations as "absurd," claiming that the unrecognized republic was attempting to escalate tensions in the region.
"Although we downed two drones yesterday, today our [Abkhaz] radars detected another surveillance drone... which flew from the direction of Georgia," Merab Kishmariya told RIA Novosti adding that the drone remained over Abkhazian territory for 10 minutes, but a decision was made not to shoot it down.
The minister said that the flight of the drone has been recorded to prove that Georgia is continuing flights over Abkhazian territory and on Monday Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh ordered the republic's military to shoot down anyone violating Abkhaz airspace.
"Air Defense, Air Force and other units monitoring aerial targets are ready for action," Kishmariya said. "We [Abkhazia] have all the necessary Air Force capability to destroy all violators of the Abkhazian airspace."
According to information from Abkhazia, the republican Air Defense have shot down four Georgian surveillance drones this year, including one on March 18, April 20 and a further two on May 4.
Tbilisi said on May 4 it will continue to conduct reconnaissance flights in the region to gather intelligence on "Russia's military intervention."
Georgia accuses Russia of shooting down an unmanned reconnaissance plane on April 20 - a claim Russia flatly denied, calling Georgia's video footage fake.
Relations between Moscow and Tbilisi have drastically deteriorated since Russia's outgoing President Vladimir Putin called for closer ties between Moscow and the two Georgian breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in mid-April.
Moscow has increased the number of Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia to around 3,000 from 2,000, but said the rise was within the limits of agreements on troop numbers signed by the Georgian leadership.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Georgia was to blame for fueling tensions in the conflict-stricken region by conducting reconnaissance flights over Abkhazian territory.
Abkhazia, along with South Ossetia, broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Between 10,000 and 30,000 people were killed in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict and some 3,000 in the Georgian-South Ossetian hostilities. Georgia is looking to regain control over the two de facto independent republics.