Russia to fund modernisation of army in breakaway Georgian region

Putin approves proposal expected to prompt condemnation from Tbilisi which clings to hope of Abkhazia’s return.

Russia''s President Putin oversees military exercises in Orenburg Region
Russia is already bankrolling the Abkhazian de facto government [File: Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via Reuters]

Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a government proposal to bankroll the modernisation of the armed forces in Georgia‘s breakaway region of Abkhazia, according to an official document.

The document published online on Monday did not specify how much money Moscow was ready to dedicate to the controversial move, which was expected to prompt condemnation from Tbilisi.

Georgia lost control of the Black Sea region of Abkhazia after an interethnic conflict which followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

Russia, which has its own troops in Abkhazia, will sign an agreement to finance the modernisation of Abkhazia’s armed forces after the completion of detailed negotiations, the Russian government’s document said.

According to the proposal approved by the Russian government on September 13, “the funds will partly go towards a phased unification of military command standards, material and technical support and social benefits,” Russia’s Kommersant online newspaper reported.

There was no immediate reaction by Georgia’s authorities.

Lost control

Russia is already bankrolling the Abkhazian de facto government – according to Kommersant, Russian aid accounts for least 45 percent of the region’s 2019 state budget. 

Moscow is also Abkhazia’s largest trading partner, accounting for 56 percent of the total commodity turnover.

Russia is one of only a handful of countries to recognise Abkhazia’s independence, something it decided to do in 2008 after it won a short war against Georgia over the fate of South Ossetia, another breakaway region.

Georgia, which aspires to join the European Union and NATO, has not had diplomatic relations with Russia since then.

It wants to regain control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and for Russian troops to leave.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies