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Russia to set up naval base in Georgia’s Abkhazia as Ukrainian strikes threaten Crimea base

In the wake of Ukrainian strikes challenging the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s hold in Crimea, Moscow turns to Georgia’s occupied Abkhazia for a potential new naval base, as claimed by a self-styled Abkhazia president after meeting with Putin.
“Satellite imagery indicates that a number of Russian naval ships have been relocated to other ports in the Black Sea following several devastating Ukrainian missile strikes on the Crimean port of Sevastopol, pictured here on October 3.” Photo: BlackSky via CNN
Russia to set up naval base in Georgia’s Abkhazia as Ukrainian strikes threaten Crimea base

Aslan Bzhania, the self-styled president of the Russian-controlled Georgian region of Abkhazia, claimed there would be a Russian military base on the Abkhazian coast, the Russian newspaper Izvestia reported on 5 October. He reportedly said it a day after he met Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We have signed an agreement, and in the near future there will be a permanent base for the Russian Navy in the Ochamchira region,” he said according to CNN. “This is all aimed at increasing the level of defense capability of both Russia and Abkhazia, and this kind of interaction will continue, because it is ensuring the fundamental interests of both Abkhazia and Russia, and security comes first.”

Reuters says Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the issue, redirecting all questions to Russia’s defense ministry, while Abkhazian de-facto authorities did not respond to a request for comment.

The Russian-occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia (Tskhinvali Region) together represent 20% of Georgia's internationally recognized territory.
The Russian-occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia (Tskhinvali Region) together represent 20% of Georgia’s internationally recognized territory.

A day before Izevstia published Bzhania’s statement on the allegedly signed naval base agreement, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russia pulled out the bulk of its naval vessels from the occupied Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea to Russia’s Black Sea port of Novorossiysk.

“Russia has withdrawn the bulk of its Black Sea Fleet from its main base [in Sevastopol] in occupied Crimea, a potent acknowledgment of how Ukrainian missile and drone strikes are challenging Moscow’s hold on the peninsula,” WSJ wrote, adding that the withdrawn vessels include three attack submarines and two frigates.

CNN says it can confirm that satellite images indicate that many Russian naval ships have been relocated to other ports in the Black Sea and some of the ships did come from the home port of the Black Sea Fleet, Sevastopol, but “additional satellite imagery reviewed by CNN shows a number of military vessels remain in that port.” 

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