In a high profile visit today to the Black Sea enclave of Abkhazia, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised nearly $500 million in aid to assist the fledgling state with building its military and fortifying its tense border with Georgia.
Putin also pledged “systemic economic and political – and, if needed, military support” for the Abkhaz government following a meeting with President Sergei Bagapsh. The visit comes just days after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged to develop full scale relations with the region.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry blasted the visit, claiming that it violated “the norms of civilized conduct.” Officials also claimed the visit was an attempt to escalate the rising tensions in the area.
High ranking Georgian MP Giorgi Kandelaki also claimed Putin had broken the law in visiting Abkhazia, noting a Georgian law which bars crossing the border between the Russia and Abkhazia. The law, needless to say, is not recognized by the Abkhaz government, and crossings are increasingly common.
Abkhazia originally declared independence from Georgia in July 1992, just over a year after Georgia broke off from the Soviet Union. What followed was a bloody war which ended with the enclave enjoying de facto independence but Georgia maintaining claims which continue to this day. Following last year’s brief Russo-Georgian War, the Russian government formally recognized Abkhazia’s independence.