Putin vows continued Russian support for Georgia's rebel Abkhazia
Aug 10 2017 by Desiree Burns
Russian president Vladimir Putin has sparked a diplomatic spat by visiting the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia in what was seen as a provocative move. Putin's visit coincided with the ninth anniversary of Georgia's attack on South Ossetia. The statement added: "NATO is united in full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders".
During his visit, Putin expressed Russia's commitment to building a joint military contingent with Abkhazia's separatist administration's leader Raul Khadzhimba, according to Reuters. "I am sure that this will continue in the future".
Georgia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has released a statement regarding Putin's visit to Georgian occupied territory, saying this step represents a continuation of Moscow deliberate policy against Georgia.
Russia has all but annexed the two regions, which exist only thanks to Russian economic aid and the protection of the Russian military and security services.
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Khajimba, like Putin, is a former officer in the Soviet-era KGB spy agency. At a press conference, Putin also said that Russian Federation and Abkhazia needed to find ways to grow the region's economy and create jobs, and that these matters would be a topic of discussions during his visit. He was elected president of Abkhazia in 2014 and shortly afterwards signed a strategic partnership deal with Moscow that formalised Russian dominance in the tiny separatist region. The region is popular with Russians as a cut-price holiday destination. Most countries recognize them as a part of Georgia.
The charismatic reformer came to power in Georgia's 2003 Rose Revolution but then fell from grace and is now wanted by Georgian prosecutors on charges of abuse of office during his nine-year rule that he insists are politically motivated.
He said Mr Putin's visit was "a violation of global law and trying to legitimise the historical injustice that the Russian Federation committed against Georgia".