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 Post subject: Russia-Abkhazia military agreement
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: 26 Nov 2014 13:13 
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Military Pact Tightens Russian Ties With Abkhazia

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President Vladimir V. Putin signed a treaty on Monday to expand Russia’s authority over Abkhazia, a breakaway region of Georgia, effectively giving the Kremlin a dominant role in military and economic policy and making it easier for residents of Abkhazia to obtain Russian citizenship.

The accord comes at a time of deep apprehension in the West over Russia’s expansionist aspirations because of its annexation of Crimea and its support of the violent separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine. The treaty was angrily denounced by Georgia as illegal and a step toward “de facto annexation.”

Under the treaty signed on Monday by the Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abkhazia's leader Raul Khadzhimba, Russian and Abkhazian forces in the territory will turn into a joint force led by a Russian commander.

The move raised further suspicions in the West about Russian President Vladimir Putin's territorial aspirations after his annexation of Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in March.

"I'm sure that cooperation, unity and strategic partnership between Russia and Abkhazia will continue to strengthen," said Putin.

Russian presence

Russia has based troops in Abkhazia for more than two decades, ever since the micro-republic broke away from Georgia in 1992-93 in a bloody separatist war.

In 2008, Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, launched an ill-fated attempt to grab back Georgia’s other rebel territory of South Ossetia.

The Russian military routed the Georgian forces in five days and Moscow recognised both rebel provinces as independent states. Still, Monday's agreement reflected a clear attempt by Moscow to further expand its presence and came only after a change of leadership in the territory.

Abkhazia's former leader, Alexander Ankvab, was forced to step down earlier this year under pressure from protesters who reportedly were encouraged by the Kremlin. Khadzhimba, a former Soviet KGB officer, was elected president in an early vote in August that Georgia rejected as illegal.

Unlike Ankvab, who had resisted Moscow's push to let Russians buy assets in Abkhazia, Khadzhimba has appeared more eager to listen to Russia's demands.

"Ties with Russia offer us full security guarantees and broad opportunities for socio-economic development,'' said Khadzhimba.

The latest treaty appears to be Putin’s riposte to a cooperation deal signed earlier this summer between Georgia and the EU. Moscow’s counter-deal envisages that Abkhaz pensions and social benefits will rise to the same level as Russia’s.

It also increases Russia’s control of the Black Sea region, which has long been of strategic importance to Moscow. Putin justified Crimea annexation by saying this would prevent NATO warships developing bases on the peninsula, which is home to Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

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 Post subject: Re: Russia-Abkhazia military agreement
Post Number:#2  PostPosted: 28 Nov 2014 11:19 
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Abkhazia - The Black Sea Region's Best Kept Secret

There have been unforeseen consequences of Georgia's invasion of South Ossetia in 2008. Since the war and conflicts of the 1990's there has been no Georgian police, governmental, customs or military presence in Abkhazia except a small garrison in the remote Kodor Valley. While the conflict was being fought in South Ossetia, Abkhaz forces chased the Georgian military out of Kodor. So, the Georgians are gone.

In the aftermath of the Ossetian conflict, Russia formally recognized Abkhazia's independence. Nicaragua and Venezuela have followed suit. Other nations, including Belarus and Ecuador were considering recognition. In August of that year, Russia announced that they would spend $500 million on infrastructure and security in Abkhazia. Turkish merchant shipping returned and the Russian Coast Guard is protecting it from Georgian harassment.

I asked tourists from Estonia and Russia how they felt about the Russian army base in Abkhazia. They told me that they had been coming for years, but that their party was larger in size because their friends now felt safe there. They were clearly grateful to Russian soldiers for the protection. I believe that Abkhazia's cause is just and that Russia is correct to offer protection from Georgian threats and aggression, because the issue with tourists, is safety.

An Abkhaz government source told me that tourism is up about 100% since 2008. The increase in tourism was the first thing I noticed on my visits in 2010. There were more new construction projects and hotels being rebuilt. I had conversations with Abkhaz people who could feel that there are big changes coming after years of impoverished isolation.

Most tourists in Abkhazia come from Russia. Russia is the largest, closest neighbour. The only other one that shares a border is Georgia. Abkhazia sits on the Black Sea with the Caucasus Mountains so close in places that it seems they will tumble into the sea. Within just a few miles of the coast, elevations reach 16,000 feet or 4 876 meter.

So, it is possible on a hot summer day to sit on the beach and look through palm trees at snow-capped mountains. In addition to the mountains and beaches, there are spectacular lakes, caves and an important monastery for Orthodox Christians. Because of its mild climate and beauty, Abkhazia was regarded during the Soviet era as the premier vacation destination in the entire country. Stalin had 5 homes there, Khrushchev 4 and Gorbachev had 1. Foreign dignitaries and heads of state were often guests at the resort of Pitsunda.

Because of the war with Georgia in 1992-93 there was a great deal of damage to the infrastructure and tourist facilities. The borders with Russia were closed until 1999 as Russia tried to mediate the conflict, but Abkhazia had no interest in being reintegrated into Georgia. However, the war damages and years of decay, due to isolation, have taken a toll. There is a need for investment to rebuild tourist facilities and infrastructure.
Despite the fact that most of the accommodations are of aged Soviet vintage or very modest guest houses, they are almost completely occupied during the tourist season.

Abkhazia has a bright future as a tourist destination for millions of Russians and others. With widespread international recognition of Abkhazia's independence, money would flow more easily for all manner of projects including hotels, resorts, shopping and entertainment. To date, the investment capital has been almost exclusively Russian.

The airport in Sukhumi is closed, but Abkhaz authorities are hopeful that flights from Russia will start soon. This will be a boon to tourism. Now, tourists come great distances by airplane, bus or train from all over Russia to cross the border into Abkhazia. Trains operate in Abkhazia, but almost exclusively for freight. Passenger train service is expected to increase quickly.
Clearly Russia has a vested interest in Abkhazia's future. The Russian Federation spent years attempting to mediate the conflict with Georgia and when that failed to produce security for Abkhazia from Georgian aggression, they acted to protect Abkhazia. This has made Abkhazia a safe place for tourism and a stable neighbour for the Winter Games that were held in Sochi in 2014.

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Personal experience: Bruce Talley is an expatriated American business-owner and traveller.

I am an American businessman and property owner in the Krasnodar/Black Sea Region of Russia.

I have had a lifelong interest in Russian history and culture. Having travelled to Russia many times as a tourist, I found myself drawn to the dynamic changes taking place in Russia. I began to study the language and to learn as much as I could about the cultural and the business climate. About 2004, I saw that the Krasnodar/Black Sea Region had very productive agriculture, shipping, oil and gas, a mild climate and attractive beach resorts. I was attracted to the potential and opportunity, so I bought property.

I have travelled extensively in southern Russia. I live in Sochi, the most popular beach resort and the site of the 2014 Winter Olympiad, Paralympics and Formula 1 Racing.

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 Post subject: Re: Russia-Abkhazia military agreement
Post Number:#3  PostPosted: 28 Nov 2014 12:09 
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A Brief History of (Abkhazian) Time

2008 Events

The August 2008 conflict in South Ossetia was the first time that many in the West were aware of either South Ossetia or Abkhazia. Both regions fought bloody wars of independence with Georgia in the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union. Between 1992 -94 thousands died. There were allegations of atrocities and ethnic cleansing on both sides. Buildings and infrastructure suffered great damage.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia both later declared their independence. Georgia has refused to recognize them and has enforced an economic blockade to force reintegration. The international community, with the exception of Russia, has turned a blind eye. Without widespread international recognition, the airports are closed, the economies have stagnated and the people live in poverty.

History of Abkhazia

Abkhazia has a long history. It is a small country on the southeast shores of the Black Sea. With dramatic mountain scenery, beautiful beaches and a subtropical climate it has been a destination for travelers since the era of ancient Greece. An Abkhazian Kingdom was established there more than 1,000 years ago.

When the Abkhazian region was absorbed by the Russian Empire in the 19th Century many Abkhazian Muslims fled to Turkey, where there is still a sizeable Diaspora. Those who remained in Abkhazia were mostly Christian. In the chaos following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the South Caucasus region was briefly included in an independent state.

Eventually, the Soviet Union established control. Later, the Soviet dictator, Josef Stalin, a Georgian, decided that Abkhazia should be included in the borders of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. The Georgian S.S.R. was one of the 15 republics that constituted the Soviet Union. However, power still devolved from Moscow. During this period the Soviet government moved thousands of ethnic Georgians into Abkhazia.

Unique during Soviet times, Abkhazians protested to be given Republic status and, while remaining an integral part of the Soviet Union, to be outside of Georgia’s borders.

After the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, only the 15 Soviet Republics were allowed to apply for recognition by the United Nations. So Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and others could apply, but Abkhazia could not apply for recognition.

This meant that Abkhazia was condemned to be included inside the borders of a nation that many residents viewed as an occupier. Effectively, the United Nations accepted Josef Stalin’s decision on Georgia’s borders.

What really happened in 2008?

The overwhelming narrative in the Western press since the August 2008 conflict was that Russia invaded Georgia.

Events do not agree.

Mikhail Saakashvili was reelected President of Georgia in 2008 on a promise of reintegration of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

August 8, the day of the start of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Georgia shelled Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia. Russian peacekeepers, who had been in place since the conflict of the mid 1990’s, and hundreds of Ossetian civilians were killed. OSCE monitors have stated that they believed that Georgia started the conflict with indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia have significant Russian minorities and have long looked to Russia for protection. Despite President Saakashvili’s apparent belief to the contrary, it was absolutely predictable that Russia would respond militarily.

Condition of Abkhazia and Ossetia Today

In the aftermath, Russia and Nicaragua became the first nations to officially recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Widespread recognition will bring investment and rebuilt infrastructure.

Tourism and economic development will follow.

There is no reason for Abkhazian citizens to live in poverty when their country has so many natural advantages.

I support international recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.



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By Bruce Talley - A Brief History of (Abkhazian) Time

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