Much of the money is expected to fund construction of a new naval base in the Abkhaz town of Ochamchira, within striking distance of Georgia’s Poti and Batumi ports, which have been regularly visited by US warships since the war in Georgia last summer . . .
Nato is increasingly nervous at Russia expanding its military reach beyond its borders and expressed “concern” earlier this year over reports that Russia planned to increase its military footprint in Abkhazia . . .
It is thought that Russia may envisage Ochamchira as a future home for its Black Sea fleet, which is currently based on Ukrainian territory. Ukraine says it will not renew the lease after it ends in 2017.
Today’s announcement by Putin has been in the works since January. For more on this development see the Atlantic Council’s coverage. Reuters provided an intriguing point about Moscow’s choice of timing in announcing its new base on the same day as a key NATO vote.
The report of plans for a base came on the day that NATO decided in Brussels to restore formal contacts with Russia that the military alliance froze to signal its anger over last year’s war with formerly Soviet Georgia. (photo: Georgian vessel destroyed in port of Poti, Times/UK)