Russia to Build Military Base in Disputed Abkhazia Region
On Wednesday, February 17, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Abkhazia’s de facto leader Sergei Bagapsh signed a formal agreement permitting Russia to build a military base in the disputed region of Abkhazia. Abkhazia has been recognized by Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru since Georgian and Russian forces fought in South Ossetia for 5 days in August 2008. In April 2009 Russia formally claimed the borders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The move to permanently base approximately 3,000 Russian troops in the region has of course drawn the ire of Georgia and regional organizations such as the European Union and NATO. David Bakradze, Georgia’s parliamentary speaker has called the move illegal and has stated that “Abkhazia and South Ossetia are Georgian territories, and the deployment of foreign troops on the territory of another country is called an occupation.” Moscow also has plans to establish a naval base in Northern Abkhazia in the future.