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Russian patrol boats arrive in Abkhazia to guard border

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, December 12 (RIA Novosti) - Two Russian patrol boats have arrived in Abkhazia to help the former Georgian republic guard its maritime border in the Black Sea, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said.

Under mutual assistance treaties signed last November following Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, Moscow pledged to help both republics protect their borders, and the signatories granted each other the right to set up military bases in their respective territories.

A Mangust class and a Sobol class patrol boats arrived in Abkhazia on Friday as the first part of a Russian coast guard division that will be based at the Black Sea port of Ochamchira. The division is expected to have up to 10 patrol boats.

The 19-meter Project 12150 Mangust patrol boat, with a maximum speed of 53 Kts, is equipped with a 14.7-mm machine gun. The 28-meter Project 12200 Sobol patrol boat is equipped with a machine gun and a gun mount, and has a maximum speed of 50 Kts.

The head of the FSB's coast guard department, Col. Gen. Viktor Trufanov, has said the patrol boats will seize Georgian ships if they illegally enter Abkhaz waters.

Georgia considers Abkhazia and its waters part of Georgian territory, and has declared any unauthorized maritime shipments of goods to be illegal. Georgia has seized a number of cargo vessels heading to Abkhazia.

Deputy speaker of the Georgian parliament, Paata Davitaia, has recently urged the U.S. and NATO to send their warships to Georgian territorial waters in the Black Sea to stave off the potential threat of the Russian sea blockade of the Georgian port of Poti in case of a military conflict.

Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war last August over another ex-Georgian region of South Ossetia, which was attacked by Tbilisi in an attempt to bring it back under central control. Moscow later recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.

Abkhazia, which has been de facto independent since the early 1990s, holds its first officially recognized presidential elections on December 12.

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