Putin responds to the US by visiting Abkhazia
The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, is expected to visit Abkhazia on 8 August, the day the war with Georgia started in 2008 which resulted in the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia. The last time Vladimir Putin visited Abkhazia was in 2013 for talks with the then president Alexander Ankvab.
The official version has it that the visit is to promote cooperation in the military, law enforcement and investment sectors. It is worth noting that:
- Russia and Abkhazia are working together to establish a joint military group, as provided for in the treaty on strategic cooperation;
- Russia and Abkhazia are struggling to establish a joint coordination center to help coordinate law enforcement efforts;
- Russian financial aid (USD 56 million in 2017) accounts for almost half of Abkhazia’s income.
Putin`s visit is also meant to be a response to the recent visit made by the American vice-president Michael Pence to Georgia and his strong anti-Russian rhetoric. Another important goal is to boost the image of the Russian president, who is facing re-election in 2018, though the campaign has not officially started yet.
“The American politician is actively lobbying Georgia to join NATO, reminding it of numerous claims, including the one to reestablish control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia by force,” Konstantin Zatulin says, a political expert with close ties to the Kremlin.
The recent decision to appoint 31-year-old Vladimir Vladimirov, who has no expertise, in charge of relations with Abkhazia in the Russian presidential administration came as a shock, RBC reports.
It may be a sign that Moscow has no strategy in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, RBC further says.
The Russian media have largely ignored the news of Vladimir Putin coming to Abkhazia. The events in Abkhazia that currently cause interest are the attack on Russian tourists in Pitsunda and the explosion at the ammunition depot in Primorskoye.
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