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De facto Abkhazia foreign minister to visit Moscow


De facto Abkhazia foreign minister to visit Moscow

Photo: Mikhai Voskresensky/Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with his de facto Abkhazian counterpart Daur Kove in Moscow today.

This meeting is one in a recent string of talks to better define and strengthen Abkhaz-Russian relations. Abkhazia is a small breakaway territory in the Caucasus considered by all but a few states to be part of Georgia. Moscow is one of the few to recognise it as an independent state and Russia is the territory’s major security guarantor and trade partner. Tbilisi lost control of the territory in 1994 and fought a short war against Russian and Abkhaz forces in 2008 following separatist attacks in Georgia.

Strong Russian-Abkhaz relations reinforce Russia’s military and financial influence in the Caucasus and are key to the breakaway territory’s security. Strengthening support for Abkhazia signals Moscow’s plans to maintain a strong presence in the Caucasus despite Georgia’s relationship with the West. Russian support for Abkhazia directly challenges Georgian sovereignty and deters closer cooperation and NATO integration in the long-term. In the medium-term, Georgia may be forced to reorient its foreign policy towards Turkey to counter these Russian moves. In the short-term, expect Abkhazia to more clearly define and strengthen its borders and increase trade with Russia in a bid for further recognition and autonomy.

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