Russia plans to re-equip the Abkhaz army – details and context
President Putin has ordered funding for the re-equipment of the Armed Forces of Abkhazia, although it is not yet known how much will be allocated and what the project specifically provides for.
In Abkhazia, they argue that this decision has no direct connection with the intensified discussion of the conditions for Georgia’s entry into NATO, as well as with the complication of the situation in the zone of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict.
The decision to modernise Abkhazia’s army was proceeded by the 2014 “Agreement of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Abkhazia on Alliance and Strategic Partnership.” One of the points of this agreement concerned Moscow’s obligations to modernise the armed forces of Abkhazia.
Georgia accuses Moscow of occupying Abkhazia, Russia rejects these accusations.
The number of personnel of the Abkhaz army is 2,100-2,200 people, with the official population of Abkhazia 242,000 people.
Until now, the Abkhaz army has been armed with old Soviet military equipment used during the 1992–93 Georgian-Abkhaz war.
Though obsolete, Abkhazia would not have had the capability to re-equip its armed forces even in the distant future.
Russian assistance is the only option for modernizing the army.
The reform provides for equipping the Abkhaz army with modern military equipment, standardising command and control standards with the Russian army, and providing social guarantees to military personnel.
The amount allocated by Moscow is not yet known. According to the Ministry of Defense of Abkhazia, it will be determined in the course of further consultations.
“By and large, the armed forces of Abkhazia in peacetime are a reinforced motorized rifle regiment. Therefore, the costs of modernizing such an army will be relatively small and will not become too burdensome for the Russian military budget.
However, the geopolitical importance of such a step significantly exceeds all possible costs, ”Lt. Gen. Valery Zaparenko, ex-deputy chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces, told Gazeta.ru.
Russia’s military base in Abkhazia
It is Russia that guarantees the defense capability and security of Abkhazia.
The Russian 7th military base is deployed on the territory of Abkhazia.
The Russian base’s potential significantly exceeds the potential of the Armed Forces of Abkhazia itself. The Russian military argues that its potential is comparable to the combat and strength of the Georgian armed forces.
In 2015, the General Staff of Abkhazia was headed by Russian General Anatoly Khrulev, and shortly after this, the State Duma adopted a resolution on the combined grouping of troops of the Russian Federation and Abkhazia.
It included from Russia a combined Russian military base deployed in the territory of Abkhazia, and from the Abkhaz – two separate motorized rifle battalions, an artillery and aviation group, as well as a separate special forces detachment.
The commander of the Russian military base was appointed to command the combined group.
Russian assistance to Abkhazia
• No less than 80 percent of the population of Abkhazia have Russian passports.
• Russia officially pays Abkhaz pensioners up to pensions according to Russian standards.
•The total amount of assistance that goes from Russia to Abkhazia annually is estimated at $ 300 million, but official and accurate information is never known, it has never been published.
• Almost all products of Abkhazian companies go either to the domestic market or to Russia.