Russia, Abkhazia sign military base deal

Russia and the Georgian rebel region of Abkhazia signed a deal yesterday allowing Moscow to build a military base on its soil, increasing its dependence on its sponsor and stoking tensions with Tbilisi.

The base will accommodate at least 3,000 Russian land troops, already stationed in the Black Sea territory, for at least 49 years, Abkhaz officials said.

“This agreement creates a foundation for the development of Abkhazia as an independent state”, said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, flanked by Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh, at a signing ceremony in the Great Kremlin Palace.

The new base is one of several that Russia plans to build in the sliver of land, which is near Nato member Turkey, in the near future. The others are for airborne troops and the navy.

Russia also installed land, air and naval troops in the rebel region of 200,000, and started work on several bases which are yet to be completed, causing Nato and the United States to call the moves a violation of international law.

Medvedev said the base would not violate Russia’s international obligations.

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