Russia Considers Constructing Naval Base in Separatist Georgian Region
Russia is mulling to construct a naval base on the Black Sea coast of the separatist Georgian region of Abkhazia, its leader said in an interview Thursday.
Tensions Rise Following Attacks on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet
The announcement came on the back of several attacks on Russia’s Black Sea fleet that have embarrassed the Kremlin.
Escalating Tensions on the Key Waterway
Tensions have escalated on the key waterway since July, when Russia exited a deal guaranteeing safe passage for cargo ships to and from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
Agreement Signed for Russian Navy Deployment
“We have signed an agreement, and in the near future there will be a permanent point of deployment for the Russian navy in the Ochamchire district,” Abkhazia’s separatist leader Aslan Bzhania told pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia in an interview published Thursday.
He said the aim of the deal was to “increase the defense capability both of Russia and Abkhazia” and added that “this kind of cooperation will continue, because this safeguards the fundamental interests of both Abkhazia and Russia. And security is above all.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he was unable to comment.
“Questions related to the deployment of our troops and our ships – these are for the Defence Ministry,” he told reporters.
Russia and Georgia fought a war in 2008, after which Moscow recognized the independence of Abkhazia and another Moscow-backed separatist region, South Ossetia.
Russian Military Bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia
Russia has stationed permanent military bases in both regions.
‘Flagrant Violation’ of Georgia’s Sovereignty
Georgian authorities said the plan was “a flagrant violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“We express concern over the statement of Russia’s occupation regime in Sukhumi regarding the establishment of an additional Russian military base on Georgia’s occupied territory,” the Foreign Ministry added in a statement.
Georgia, an ex-Soviet country in the South Caucasus, has for years pushed for integration into the European Union, a process that accelerated after a brief war with Russia in 2008.