- Sputnik International
Get the latest news from around the world, live coverage, off-beat stories, features and analysis.

Military exercises underway in Abkhazia

The Armed Forces of the unrecognized Georgian republic of Abkhazia began planned military exercises on Monday with up to 4,000 soldiers participating.
SUKHUMI, March 24 (RIA Novosti) - The Armed Forces of the unrecognized Georgian republic of Abkhazia began planned military mobilization exercises on Monday with up to 4,000 soldiers and reservists participating.

General Anatoly Zaitsev, a first deputy Abkhaz defense minister, told journalists that the command post exercises would last until March 28.

Although the area where the exercises are being held is not in the CIS peacekeepers' 'responsibility zone', both they and the UN mission were informed of the exercise in advance. The CIS is an alliance of former Soviet republics.

On March 5, Abkhazia's armed forces completed large-scale five-day artillery and aviation exercises.

The military exercise comes as tensions between Georgia and Abkhazia increase. In further developments on Monday, the Abkhaz parliamentary speaker said that his countrymen were ready to take up arms to defend Abkhazia from any hostile forces.

"We are not afraid of anyone - not NATO, or anyone else. If we need to defend our homeland we will do so," Nugzar Ashuba said, just days after lawmakers in Abkhazia had signed a statement accusing Tbilisi of military aggression, and warning that war could break out in the Caucasus.

In the statement, they called for urgent action from Russia, the United Nations, the OSCE and PACE to "influence the Georgian leadership so that it renounces military force or terrorist activity as means of solving political issues."

Abkhazia's leadership earlier said its Air Force brought down an Israeli-made Georgian unmanned combat reconnaissance plane over its territory on March 18, and accused Georgia of repeatedly violating its airspace. Tbilisi has denied the reports.

Russia's lower house of parliament adopted a statement a few days ago that recommended that Moscow speed up the recognition of Abkhazia and another Georgian de facto independent republic, South Ossetia.

Peacekeeping in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone is currently carried out by collective CIS forces staffed with Russian service personnel.

Both Abkhazia and South Ossetia were involved in bloody conflicts with Georgia after proclaiming independence following the split-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала