New plan by the U.S.: ‘Commercial Annexation’ of Abkhazia?

55_1.jpgSome Russian media are writing with concern that after the US delegation headed by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew J. Bryza and US Ambassador to Georgia John Taft visited Sukhumi (capital of Abkhazia), the tone in Abkhazia’s leadership’s statements has changed.

In Sukhumi the US offered Abkazia to restore a direct dialog with the Georgian governement without Russia’s participation. After the visit the Abkhaz leadership has made a series of statements.

 

The republic’s president Sergei Bagapsh and foreign minister Sergei Shamba stated that Abkhazia’s integration into Russia is out of the question, and the main value of the Sukhumi authorities is the republic’s independence. At the same time the Abkhaz leaders asked the Russian Federation to deploy its military bases on the territory of Abkhazia.

 

Earlier on Wall Street Journal published an analytical article written by a journalist who visited Georgia and Abkhazia at the time of the visit by Matthew Bryza, where Georgia is directly offered to let Abkhazia go, to open Abkhazia’s sea borders, and to open the railroad connecing Sukhumi and Tbilisi, so that the republic could no longer depend on Russia.

 

Opening the borders would imply large investments coming from Georgia, the US and Turkey, as well as the legalization of lumber-trade business with Turkey and the EU, whose volumes are capable of exceeding the profits from Russian tourism.

 

Moscow fears that such a scenario may be adopted by Abkhazia, since it provides full legalization and maximization of profits, as well as real independence under the guarantees of the US and NATO.

 

RBK Daily believes that in this context the insistent public proposal concerning the deployment of Russian military bases in the conditions when de facto Russian military presence in the republic has been constantly increasing, sounds more like an attempt to probe Russia’s position.

 

In the conditions of traditional sluggishness of Russia’s foreign policy, the calls to immediately deploy military bases have led to the statements that were made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chief of Staff Yuri Baluyevski claiming that so far no such bases will be deployed. This refusal by Moscow has given Abkhazia the leeway for political maneuvers.

 

Meanwhile the change in economic ties and inflow of non-Russian capital will in the future allow the US to negotiate on the aspects of military presence in sovereign Abkhazia. Surely, Moscow can never be satisfied with such a scenario.

 

Russia is assured that the emergence of independent Abkhazia under the protectorate of the US and Georgia will lead to active involvement of Western intelligence services in Adygean regions of the North Caucasus, aimed at the efforts to separate the North Caucasus from the Russian Federation.

 

Pretty clumsy propagandistic campaign with the story about capturing the “Georgian spy”, who was allegedly establishing contacts between Georgia and the Caucasus Emirate in Ingushetia, is an indirect sign of the Kremlin’s concern.

 

Russian commentators are saying that in order to prevent the scenario of “commercial annexation” of Abkhazia by the US and Georgia, Moscow has to develop and implement its own plan of actions concerning Sukhumi (capital of Abkhazia) within the shortest timeframe possible.

 

Immediate recognition of Abkhazia’s independence and open and demonstrative deployment of considerable number of military contingent may be on the agenda. At the next stage Moscow may put another issue on the agenda: integration of Abkhazia into the Russian Federation.

 

Kavkaz Center

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