Abkhaz Leader Meets Russia’s Putin to Boost Relations

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin met Thursday with the de-facto head of Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia region Raul Khajimba at the Novo-Ogaryovo presidential residence outside Moscow to discuss deepening relations.

According to the Kremlin’s press release, the two leaders discussed mechanisms for further developing relations between Moscow and the separatist government in Sukhumi as well as pledged mutual support for one another.

“I am not going to mention the special nature of our relations, which are developing. What I am referring to is their diversified nature. I am very happy to have this opportunity to discuss all these matters with you,” Putin said.

Khajimba opened the meeting with praise for Putin and the increasingly robust cooperation between his rebel government and Moscow.

“Many things have changed in regards to relations between our two countries since our previous meeting. We have signed a number of sectorial agreements to develop our principal treaty on mutual defense and a strategic partnership. There are also certain security matters that we are resolving, as well as economic and social issues,” Khajimba said.

Khajimba also pointed out that the process of raising the pensions of Russian citizens residing in Abkhazia had already been launched.

Abkhazia, a fertile temperate region on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, broke away from Tbilisi’s central authority following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russian-backed Abkhaz separatists and mercenaries from the North Caucasus fought a brutal civil war with Georgian federal forces in 1992-93.

Heavily subsidized and armed by Moscow, Abkhaz officials have acted outside of Tbilisi’s central authority since hostilities ended in the early 1990s.

Russia maintains a significant military and economic presence in the region and has granted most of the local residents Russian citizenship.

Moscow recognized Abkhazia as an independent state in 2008 following Georgia’s war with its other Moscow-backed breakaway region, South Ossetia.

19 February 2016 20:20