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Russia is trying to appropriate a part of occupied Abkhazia

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Monday, July 25, 2022
Russia is no longer satisfied with the occupation of only Abkhazia and forces the proxy government of Sukhumi to hand over the territory of Bichvinti for 49 years, which is important from a touristic and strategic point of view. The Georgian government, which is busy criticizing the West and accusing the US ambassador of interfering in Georgian affairs, is not saying anything about this attempt of Russia.

Even though the Georgian government has been trying to "not irritate" Russia for years, and because of its position on the Russia-Ukraine war, Georgia is included in the list of "friendly countries of Russia", this does not stop Moscow's aggressive policy towards Georgia for a moment.

In the Tskhinvali region, the drawing of the "border" is continuous, and with the expansion of the occupied territory, scandalous information has spread about the transfer of the Bichvinta State Country House to the ownership of Russia.

The corresponding agreement was signed by the puppet government of Sukhumi on January 19, 2022. 186 hectares of Bichvinta land and 115 hectares of sea space are transferred to the ownership of the Russian Federation. All buildings and structures become the property of the Federal Protection Service, and the Black Sea Equatoria with the surrounding lands will be transferred to Russia on a 49-year lease. The agreement was signed in secret and was not made public until March.

There are two versions as to why Russia needs the Bichvinta territory:

According to the first version, Moscow plans to join Gagra and Bichvinta with the “federal territory” created in the Krasnodar region - Sirius. This territory was created in 2020 and is sometimes called a "city of science", although its purpose is not defined.

According to the second version, Russia intends to create a military base in Bichvinta instead of developing tourism. The Bichvinta cape, with its strategic geographical location, is in the hands of Russia, and it needs marine waters for the deployment of submarines. In this case, the country houses built during the Soviet period will play the role of a military base management complex.

When it became known about the transfer of Bichvinta Cape to Russia, it caused protests in Abkhazian society. Abkhazian politicians are trying to find an explanation acceptable to society. Some say that they should be "grateful" to Russia for helping them and gaining "independence".

In other words, they organized ethnic cleansing of Georgians on the territory of Abkhazia, gave Russian citizenship to the rest of the population, and deployed military bases. They also provide for "possible aggression", so it turns out that if the territory of Bichvinta is handed over to Russia, the aggressor will be more careful because minor aggression against the Sokhumi regime will also be considered aggression against Russia.

It is difficult to say how much such an explanation will satisfy the disaffected, and it is a fact that Moscow is not going to give up on the appropriation of this territory. In the background of all this, the silence of official Tbilisi is strange. No protest statement was made regarding Russia's new annexationist plans. On July 20, "Strategy Agmashenebeli" MP Teona Akubardia held a briefing and called on the authorities to condemn the fact of Russia's annexation of Bichvinta.

"While the anti-Western rhetoric is getting stronger in the country, and "Georgian Dream" and the deputies who defected from it storm the US ambassador and the West, the process of annexation of Abkhazia continues, Russia is taking Bichvinta away, and, "Georgian Dream," says nothing about it," Teona Akubardia stated.

Moscow is not planning to annex Bichvinta alone. He also wants to make changes in the Geneva format of negotiations, which have been going on between Georgia and Russia since the 2008 war. The negotiations are held under the co-chairmanship of the European Union, the United Nations, and the OSCE. The negotiations are not very successful because of Russia's position, but in this format, Georgia is not left face to face with Russia.

The 56th round of international discussions in Geneva was scheduled for March 20-30, 2022, but was postponed due to the war in Ukraine. A few weeks ago, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko raised the issue of "moving the meetings from Geneva to a neutral place" as one of the conditions for resuming the discussions in Geneva.

Recently, Abkhazia's de facto foreign minister Inal Ardzinba naturally repeated the same. According to him, not only do Geneva discussions need to be moved to another city, but it turns out that a "politically less committed" format is needed.

Moscow and its satellites from the occupied territories of Georgia are still speaking and acting in the same aggressive mood. Many people in "Georgian Dream" probably still believe that Russia is invincible and that Putin will win in Ukraine. The ruler of Chechnya, Kadyrov, threatens Poland after the destruction of Ukraine, but what if the events had developed differently?

Ben Hodges, the former commander in chief of the US Army in Europe, the reserve lieutenant general, asked an unexpected question to the Georgian Dream government in an interview with Voice of America. "The Russian Federation will begin to disintegrate in the next few years, is Georgia ready for this possibility?" Hodges believes that Ukraine will win a war with Russia. If we take into account the statements and actions of the Georgian government, the Georgian Dream is not thinking about such a possibility.