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Moscow To Strengthen Abkhaz Borders, Russian Bases


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gives an interview to Abkhaz media in Sochi on August 12 ahead of his trip.
MOSCOW -- Russia says it will spend some $489 million to reinforce Abkhazia's borders and strengthen Russian military operations in the breakaway Georgian republic, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin added that some $76 million has been sent to Abkhazia this year to support the republic's budget.

Putin said Moscow will provide Abkhazia with the same amount next year as well and will also aid the Abkhaz government in making pension payments.

Putin made the announcement in Moscow ahead of his trip to Abkhazia today, his first since Russia recognized its independence in August 2008.

Abkhazia and the second breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia have been de facto independent states since winning conflicts against Georgian forces in the early 1990s.

"Putin's visit to the occupied territory of a sovereign country is yet another provocation carried the tradition of the Soviet special services," Georgia's Foreign Ministry responded, according to Reuters.

Tbilisi said the trip was "yet another attempt to destabilize the situation and escalate tension in the Caucasus region."

Russian forces have a base in the Abkhaz city of Gudauta -- which is an old Soviet military base -- and are building facilities for a Russian base in the port city of Ochamchire.

Russia has 3,636 military soldiers deployed in Abkhazia and "a bit less" in South Ossetia, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told journalists on August 12.

Asked if Russia planned to boost its military presence in the two pro-Moscow separatist republics, Serdyukov replied: "Why have more [troops]? This is enough."

with Reuters