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Russia to deploy 3,800 troops in Abkhazia for next 49 years

RIA Novosti

06/03/2009 15:13 MOSCOW, March 6 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will have a total of 3,800 troops deployed in Abkhazia for the next 49 years, the president of the former Georgian republic said on Friday.

Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states on August 26, 2008, two weeks after the end of a five-day war with Georgia. Fighting began when Georgian forces attacked South Ossetia in a bid to bring it back under central control.

Nicaragua has so far been the only other country to recognize the republics.

In an interview with the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily Sergei Bagapsh said the Russian troops would be stationed mainly at the Gudauta base, as well as along Abkhazia's land and sea border with Georgia in the Black Sea.

He added that the Gudauta military base had possessed the necessary infrastructure since the Soviet era, and that the same was true for a naval base in the coastal town of Ochamchira, which is to be used by the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

The president said the Georgian-Abkhazian border would be guarded by a joint Abkhazian-Russian force of about 300 servicemen from each country.

Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia split from Georgia amid bloody post-Soviet conflicts. The majority of residents of both republics have had Russian citizenship for many years.

The chief of the Russian General Staff, Gen. Nikolai Makarov, said in November that the Russian military bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia would be fully staffed with 3,700 personnel each by the end of 2009.


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