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Russia Says Air Force Flew Over South Ossetia

Georgia -- Map with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, updated 2008
MOSCOW -- Russia says its air force flew over Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia this week because it believed Tbilisi was preparing to attack the region.

"The need arose to take urgent and active measures to prevent bloodshed and keep the situation within peaceful bounds," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"In order to clarify the situation, aircraft of the Russian air force carried out a brief flight over the territory of South Ossetia," the ministry said. "As subsequent events showed, this step allowed [us] to cool hot heads in Tbilisi and prevent events developing along military lines, the likelihood of which was more than real."