Worries Loom over Russia Annexing Georgia’s Abkhazia Province

Worries Loom over Russia Annexing Georgia’s Abkhazia Province

Russia has reached a military agreement with Georgia’s breakaway province of Abkhazia, a move that has drawn ire from the West. 

Georgia has denounced the agreement as a step toward de facto annexation of its territory, according to various news accounts.

“Under a treaty signed by Vladimir Putin and Abkhazia’s leader – both former KGB officers – a Russian commander will lead a new joint force of Russian and Abkhaz troops. Abkhazia also agreed to harmonise its foreign and defence policies with Moscow’s. Putin promised subsidies to the lush coastal Black Sea enclave, amounting to $270m (£170m) over the next three years,” explains The Guardian.

The military pact comes seven months after Russia annexed Crimea and began to engage in covert military operations inside Ukraine, further heightening tensions between the Kremlin and the West. The West has imposed sanctions on Russia over Ukraine. Russia continues to deny conducting military operations inside Ukraine.

In the U.S., the State Department said it would not recognize the treaty between Russia and Abkhazia.

“The United States will not recognize the legitimacy of any so-called ‘treaty’ between Georgia’s Abkhazia region and the Russian Federation,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

Federica Mogherini, the head of EU foreign policy said “the agreement violated Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” reports Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg condemned the accord.

In 2008, Moscow recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another breakaway territory, as independent states following a brief war between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia. 

The province of Abkhazia broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s during a harsh war.

Putin has consistently argued that the Black Sea region, where Crimea and Abkhazia are located, is important to Russia’s defense.

Protests, allegedly fueled by Russia, forced Alexander Ankvab, the former leader of Abkhazia to step down. The new leader, Raul Khajimba, is friendlier to Moscow.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.