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HomeNewsPutin launches 'nightmare scenario' with plans for Black Sea naval base

Putin launches 'nightmare scenario' with plans for Black Sea naval base


Vladimir Putin is believed to have signed a deal to station a permanent naval base on the Black Sea coast of Abkhazia.

The breakaway region has been heavily linked to Russia ever since it was captured during the Russo-Georgia war.

Aslan Bzhania, leader of the region, told the Izvestia tabloid that Moscow would soon have a “permanent point of deployment” on its coastline a day after he met with Putin.

Russia has struggled to protect its existing Black Sea fleet from Ukrainian fire, currently based in Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula which it annexed in 2014.

Georgian officials have hit out at the alleged plans, with Express.co.uk being shown comments from David Kezerashvili, who served as Georgia’s defence minister during the 2008 Russian invasion, who warns of the impending disaster if true.

“This is a major development which will ratchet up tensions in the region, and it is crystal clear now that Russia aims to drag Georgia into the current conflict in Ukraine,” he said.

“Ukraine has been hugely successful at targeting Russia’s navy in Crimea, with the result being that the Kremlin now feels it needs to relocate. In addition, Putin is also sending a signal to the West that it needs to stay out of Georgia.

“The nightmare scenario for the West is that Russia starts launching attacks on Ukraine from territory that is legally Georgia’s, or alternatively that Ukraine feels obliged to strike first in Georgia’s direction.”

Mr Bzhania, the self-styled president of Russian-backed Abkhazia, claimed the agreement had been made for a base in the Ochamchira region.

He said: “We have signed an agreement, and in the near future there will be a permanent base of the Russian Navy in the Ochamchira district.

“This is all aimed at increasing the level of defence capability of both Russia and Abkhazia, and this kind of interaction will continue. There are also things I can’t talk about.”

The Kremlin has refused to comment on the alleged deal, but Georgia’s foreign ministry said it would be a “flagrant violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Abkhazia already hosts a Russian military base in Bombora known as the 7th military base.

Russia recognised Abkhazia along with South Ossetia as independent republics in 2008 after a five-day conflict saw Russian troops declare war on Georgia after it attempted to take the latter region back.

Since then, Georgia says 20 percent of its land has been occupied by Russia.

Much of the world recognises Abkhazia as being part of Georgia apart from Russia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru and Syria, who all observe the state’s independence.

The region fought a war of succession with Georgia between 1992 and 1993, formally declaring independence in 1999 though remaining a part of Georgia.

Mr Bzhania told the press that a new naval base would expand the defence capacity of Russia and Abkhazia, and “safeguard the fundamental interests” of both, and that “security is above all”.

Meeting with Putin earlier this week, he expressed support for Moscow in its war against Ukraine.

Ukraine has targeted Russia’s Black Sea fleeting Crimea in recent weeks, forcing at least 17 Russian vessels to relocate from Sevastopol to Novorossiysk, according to satellite images.

Express.co.uk has previously been told that Putin has far-ranging influence in Georgia and since the outbreak of war in Ukraine has flooded the country with “agents of influence”.

Natia Seskuria founder and director of the Georgia-based Regional Institute for Security Studies (RISS), said she believes it was the Kremlin’s goal to cut Georgia off from the West and reestablish it with its sphere of influence.

“The Kremlin is still very much proactive in terms of how they act, in what we call hybrid activities, things like disinformation and infiltration of the Georgian political scene and Georgian politics generally with agents of influence,” she said.

“Now more than ever it is important for the Kremlin to have a hand in Georgia and have control and be as disruptive as possible.”

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