Putin may want to seize Georgias Black Sea ports for Russias naval fleet
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Georgia is at “risk” from Russia potentially wanting to seize further ports in its internationally recognised territory, a former Georgian politician has claimed.
It comes after the leader of the Georgian breakaway region Abkhazia announced that Russia would soon have a “permanent point of deployment” along its Black Sea coast.
Along with South Ossetia, Abkhazia broke away from Georgia during the 2008 Russo-Georgia war, when Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Georgia.
Russia soon recognised the two self-styled republics as independent states along with a handful of its allies, and quickly deployed its own troops in both regions.
Now, former Georgian Minister of Defence David Kezerashvili has claimed that Vladimir Putin may look to capture even more Georgian ports as the war in Ukraine stretches out.
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“This is obviously an affront to the international community, which considers Abkhazia to be an integral part of Georgia,” he said in an interview with the French magazine, Le Point.
“It is also a message to Turkey, whose naval bases are located nearby. Furthermore, it’s a message to the Russian public, which is being made to understand that the country has no intention of leaving the Caucasus, despite its policy of abandoning Nagorno-Karabakh in Armenia.
“If this port is targeted by Ukraine, Georgia could be legally dragged into the conflict. There is also a risk that Russia may want to seize other Georgian ports on the Black Sea.”
By settling in an Abkhazian port, Russia will only be some 30 to 40 kilometres (18 to 24 miles) away from Anaklia in Georgia, the site of a proposed deepwater port.
Aslan Bzhania, the leader of Abkhazia, claimed an agreement had been set in motion with Moscow earlier this month.
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He said: “We have signed an agreement, and in the near future there will be a permanent base of the Russian Navy in the Ochamchira district.
“This is all aimed at increasing the level of defence capability of both Russia and Abkhazia, and this kind of interaction will continue. There are also things I can’t talk about.”
While the Kremlin has not yet commented on the proposed port, Georgia’s foreign ministry said it would be a “flagrant violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Russia already has at least one military base in Abkhazia and is known to have troops deployed in the region.
Its ‘7th Military Base’, located in Gudauta, northern Abkhazia, was set up a year after the Russo-Georgia war.
It answers to the command of the 49th Combined Arms Army and the Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces, and some 4,500 soldiers are thought to call the base home.
Georgia has struggled to grapple with Russian influence since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but especially since the outbreak of war in Ukraine.
Natia Seskuria founder and director of the Georgia-based Regional Institute for Security Studies (RISS), said she believes it was the Kremlin’s goal to cut Georgia off from the West and suck it into its political sphere.
“The Kremlin is still very much proactive in terms of how they act, in what we call hybrid activities, things like disinformation and infiltration of the Georgian political scene and Georgian politics generally with agents of influence,” she told Express.co.uk.
“Now more than ever it is important for the Kremlin to have a hand in Georgia and have control and be as disruptive as possible.”
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