August 12, 2009
[efoods]The prospect of a US-Russian naval stand-off in the Black Sea loomed today after Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow would spend nearly half a billion dollars next year beefing up military bases in Georgia’s breakaway republic of Abkhazia.
Much of the money is expected to fund construction of a new naval base in the Abkhaz town of Ochamchira, within striking distance of Georgia’s Poti and Batumi ports, which have been regularly visited by US warships since the war in Georgia last summer. An existing Russian airbase further north in Gudauta is also likely to be enlarged.
“We will allot a very large amount of money — 15-16bn roubles (£300,000) — for the development of our military base and strengthening of Abkhazia’s state border, next year,” the Russian prime minister told reporters at his summer residence in Sochi, ahead of a surprise visit to the Moscow-backed republic today. “This is an additional and serious guarantee of the security of Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” he added.