A plan to open military bases in the contested province of Abkhazia could threaten Georgia and extend Russian military power abroad, reports Eurasianet.org.
Russia is working to restore an old Soviet air base in the breakaway Georgian region, and plans to open a naval base on the Black Sea as well.
Abkhazia’s separatist government welcomes the bases due to what Russian military officials call the “threat of … terrorist attacks by Georgian special services.”
Yet the new bases shine a more strategic light on Russia’s support for Abkhazian independence.
Eurasianet.org notes that the new bases would significantly expand Russia’s military influence abroad, and give it “a chip with which it could intimidate Georgia for years to come.”
Abkhazia, along with South Ossetia, split from Georgia in the 1990s. Georgia attacked South Ossetia last year in an attempt to regain the republic, but was beaten back following Russian military intervention.
“Georgia: Russia plans three military bases in Abkhazia”
Eurasia.net, February 6, 2009