Abkhazia says no plans for new Russian bases

September 2nd, 2008 - 9:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Sukhumi (Georgia), Sep 2 (RIA Novosti) Abkhazia, Georgia’s breakaway region, will not host new Russian military bases on its territory, the leader of the region recently recognised by Russia as independent country said Tuesday. “There will be no new bases,” Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh said, adding that Russia’s Black Sea Fleet will not be based in the republic either.

“Only units of Russia’s ground forces that have always been based here will continue to be stationed in Abkhazia,” he said.

However, the new statement contradicts the president’s earlier suggestions.

After Russia recognised the independence of Georgia’s two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Bagapsh said Russia’s Black Sea Fleet could use one of the ports in the republic to station its warships.

In late August, a Russian military diplomat said, requesting anonymity, that Russia had been evaluating the possible deployment of military bases in the Gudauta and Ochamchira cities in Abkhazia and in the South Ossetian city of Java.

Russia has always claimed that it closed down its military base in Gudauta in 2001, as envisaged by the OSCE Istanbul treaty, but according to some reports about 400 personnel are still stationed at the base, besides helicopters, military vehicles, a fuel storage area, and other facilities.

Moscow has never allowed international inspections of the base and has provided no data on suspected stockpiles of arms and ammunition.

The Russian military also maintains the Bombora airfield, which is part of the Gudauta base complex.

Russia earlier said it would station 2,142 peacekeepers in Abkhazia and had no plans to boost its peacekeeping numbers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia after it had recognised their independence from Georgia.

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