Russia to Help Breakaway Abkhazia Modernize Its Armed Forces

The Russian Federation is to financially assist Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia to modernize its armed forces.

The relevant agreement was signed a few days ago during a meeting between de facto minister of defense of the “Republic of Abkhazia,” Mirab Kishmaria and Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, Army General Sergey Shoigu, in Moscow.

Russian and Abkhazian media report that the agreement envisages further development of their military-technical cooperation and the modernization of the armed forces of Russian-occupied Abkhazia.

Shoigu said that Russia and Abkhazia enjoy a common defense and security space. “We were the first to recognize the republic’s independence and we continue to offer it comprehensive help. The documents and agreements signed in 2014 and 2015 and, naturally, our military base, which we are strengthening and which is a guarantor of stability thanks to our joint efforts, are of great importance,” he noted.

Kishmaria expressed gratitude for Russia’s contribution to the security of the (occupied) region.

“The fact that the seventh base and the joint group are providing security is worthy of special gratitude. This is first of all your merit, the merit of your officers and generals who are providing security jointly with our officers and generals and the defense ministry. I reiterate my gratitude for the statehood that our armies are providing,” he said.

The sides also discussed a plan of cooperation between the Republic of Abkhazia and the Russian Federation in the field of strengthening the interaction of the armed forces.

“The document was signed under the Treaty of Alliance and Strategic Partnership between the Republic of Abkhazia and the Russian Federation and is its logical continuation,” Abkhazian media outlet Apsnypress reports.

Russia recognized breakaway Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s ‘independence’ on August 26, 2008, in the wake of the five-day August war, which left 20% of Georgia occupied by its northern neighbor.

After this, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru and Vanuatu also recognized these regions as countries, however, the latter withdrew its recognition in 2013. Last year, Syria also expressed its support to these de facto regions.

The rrest of international society says Abkhazia and South Ossetia are parts of Georgia and calls on Russia to withdraw its forces from these territories.

Some days ago, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the process of international recognition of Abkhazia is irreversible.

Lavrov noted that ‘the process of recognition’ started under Sergey Bagapsh’s leadership, the second “president” of Georgia’s breakaway region.

"I am confident that this process is irreversible. Abkhazia has shown itself as a democratic state, the foundations of which were laid by Bagapsh," the Russian politician said.

Russia and Abkhazia established “diplomatic relations” at embassy level on 9 September 2008, when Lavrov and de facto Abkhaz Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Shamba exchanged letters of note at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow.

On 25 September 2008, then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sign a decree appointing the first Russian Ambassador to Abkhazia, Semyon Grigoriyev, who presented his Letters of Credence to Sergey Bagapsh on 16 December 2008. In return, Igor Akhba, the de facto Plenipotentiary Representative of the President of the Republic of Abkhazia to Russia was appointed by Bagapsh as Abkhazia's “first ambassador” to Russia on 14 November 2008.

Further, then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin issued a directive to set up a Russian embassy in Abkhazia in 2009 which was opened in occupied Sokhumi in May, 2009.

By Thea Morrison

Image source: Russian Defense Ministry Press Office

29 August 2019 18:15