Russia's Black Sea Fleet flees into occupied Abkhazia - Danger for Georgia, the "Middle Corridor" and the Abkhazians

06.10.23 10:40

Late in the evening of 4 October 2023, a meeting was held in Sochi between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the puppet separatist leader of Abkhazia, Aslan Bjania. The day before this meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov-Kalantarov gathered the puppet leaders of the Sukhumi and Tskhivali regimes and the heads of their "foreign ministries" in the same Sochi - obviously preparing them for something important.


Although the Russian media wrote in the usual propaganda way about "deepening cooperation" between Russia and the separatists, it was clear to everyone that the Russian leadership urgently needed to resolve some very important issue with the separatist puppets under its control. And the next day - 5 October - it became clear what it was.


Separatist 'president' Aslan Bzhania announced that 'the Russian Black Sea Fleet is expanding its presence in the Black Sea' and that a new permanent Russian naval base would be opened in Abkhazia in the Ochamchira district. According to him, an agreement to this effect has already been signed. Bzhania did not give further details, but one thing is clear: the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation, which has been exhausted by the war against Ukraine, is literally "running away" to Abkhazia, which is occupied by the Russian Federation, away from the theatre of military operations. This poses enormous risks for the entire South Caucasus region.


The flight of the Russian Black Sea Fleet to the occupied Georgian territory is no coincidence. With the sinking of the cruiser Moskva, the ships of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation do not take the risk of staying in the open sea for a long time and mostly stay at their bases. But they too are under attack. All of them - both on the territory of the Russian Federation and in the occupied Crimea.


In August 2023, the large landing ship (LST) Olenegorsk Miner was damaged in a drone attack in the waters off the port of Novorossiysk. On 22 September 2023, Ukraine attacked the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in occupied Sevastopol. And on 1 October, drones attacked the car park of Russian helicopters in Adler, close to the Russian border with Georgian-occupied Abkhazia.


It is clear to the Kremlin leadership that the Black Sea Fleet needs to be 'taken away' somewhere. And the decision has apparently been taken to move it to occupied Abkhazia. And not just because it is further away from Ukraine and the theatre of military operations. A difference of 100-200 kilometres is insignificant for modern means of defeat.


Having suffered a fiasco with the deployment of the Black Sea Fleet against Ukraine, the Kremlin leadership is not averse to compensating with "successes" on other fronts. In particular, by shifting military operations to the Black Sea coast of Georgia. First to occupied Abkhazia. And then, perhaps, the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation will want to "escape" to Poti and Batumi. This will definitely hinder the development of the "middle corridor" and transit through the ports of Georgia. Moreover, the Kremlin's propaganda will try to make the "aggressive" Ukraine "guilty".


At the same time, not only the existing ports and sea communications in the area of Batumi, Poti and Kulevi are under attack. The project to build a deep-water port in Anaklia, just 20 kilometres from Ochamchira, is also being hit. Investors will simply not finance construction in such dangerous proximity to a war zone.


Not to mention that the hostages of Russian military adventures are the remnants of dying Abkhazians. The last two "zones" in separatist Abkhazia where the Abkhazians have not yet been numerically "crushed" by the Khai settlers are the area of the Russian military base in Gudauta and Ochamchira and its surroundings. These last "reserves" of Abkhazian ethnicity are under attack. And the question of ending the occupation of Abkhazia is becoming a question of life and death for the Abkhazians as a people.



George Kvinitadze

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