Map of Republic of Georgia featuring the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
“We tread a distinct path. We haven’t received any formal requests to join the Russian Federation, and I’m yet to identify any political faction within Abkhazia that envisions such a relationship dynamic with Russia.”
In an interview published on 22 August in the pro-Russian media outlet Arguments and Facts, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, suggested that for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the “idea of joining Russia is still popular[i] and it may well be implemented if there are good reasons.” Medvedev’s commentwas not well received by Abkhazian officials, regardless of whether it was an off-the-cuff remark or a more calculated statement. As per the excerpted article on pro-Abkhaz media source Abkhaz World, the Secretary of the Security Council of Abkhazia, Sergey Shamba, responded to Medvedev’s statement by declaring that he was unaware of any political parties or groups that preferred incorporation into Russia, insisting that Abkhazia “tread” its own path. Shamba also noted that Abkhazia “is keen on fostering close and allied relations with Russia,” but that the tiny republic remains committed to independence. A statement from the Foreign Ministry of Abkhazia published in a second excerpted article from Abkhaz World declared that “The millennia-old statehood of Abkhazia is not a subject for debate.”[ii] The same article also included comments by other Abkhaz officials, including Aslan Kabakhia, who declared that it was “very unpleasant to hear of talks of a potential change in Abkhazia’s status from the very individual who [previously] endorsed our independence,” and another official, Akhra Bzhaniya, who noted that “our sovereignty is not a toy.” Abkhazia remains defiant regarding independence, suggesting that a miscalculation by Russian or other regional leaders could reignite conflict in the breakaway republic. For example, some Ukrainian officials continue to call on Georgia to open a second front in the Caucasus by militarily invading Abkhazia, assuming Russia will be forced to divert military forces in defense of Abkhazia.
“Abkhazia: Seeking Alliance but Standing Apart from Russian Federation,” Abkhaz World (pro-Abkhaz media outlet based in London and Istanbul), 24 August 2023. https://abkhazworld.com/aw/current-affairs/2484-abkhazia-seeking-alliance-but-standing-apart-from-russian-federation
The Secretary of the Security Council of Abkhazia, Sergey Shamba, emphasised that while Abkhazia is in favour of forming an alliance with Russia, the nation is open to various forms of bilateral relations.
Abkhazia is keen on fostering close and allied relations with Russia. However, Sergey Shamba highlighted that there currently aren’t any political entities within the republic expressing a desire to become part of the Russian Federation.
Shamba’s remarks were in response to the statements made by Dmitry Medvedev, the Deputy Head of the Russian Federation’s Security Council. In a previous article on the http://aif.ru website, Medvedev pointed out that both Abkhazia and South Ossetia still harbour sentiments of aligning with Russia, suggesting that this aspiration “might very well materialize given compelling reasons.”
Medvedev further elaborated, “South Ossetia has, on multiple occasions, held referendums on the prospect of joining Russia. This aligns naturally with the trajectory of uniting North and South Ossetia — a single people. I believe this resonates with Dmitry Medvedev’s statements. I’m optimistic that in due course, the right conditions will emerge, culminating in the unification of the North and South.”
Shamba, speaking of Abkhazia, added, “We tread a distinct path. We haven’t received any formal requests to join the Russian Federation, and I’m yet to identify any political faction within Abkhazia that envisions such a relationship dynamic with Russia.” He reiterated that while Abkhazia is eager to bolster allied relations with Russia, they remain flexible in exploring different relational frameworks.
“Невыученные уроки. Дмитрий Медведев проанализировал события 2008 года (Unlearned lessons. Dmitry Medvedev analyzed the events of 2008),” Arguments and Facts (pro-Moscow media outlet) 23 August 2023. https://aif.ru/politics/world/nevyuchennye_uroki_dmitriy_medvedev_proanaliziroval_sobytiya_2008_goda
At one time, Saakashvili became the first US proxy leader in the Caucasus with a single mission – to incite the hatred of the inhabitants of Georgia towards Russia, shake its position in the Transcaucasus, overshadow the centuries-old friendship of the two peoples. This strange creature brought the war closer with all its might. She pretended to be an “Old Testament shepherd David” – and at the same time did everything so that the Georgians would forget their common history, break ties with Russia, hate their closest neighbors – Russians, Ossetians, Abkhazians – and wish them death. The latest performances of Russophobes in Georgia show that this public is still counting on revenge. Although he constantly runs into rebuff from his fellow citizens, who do not intend to elevate hatred of Russia to the rank of a national idea and are quite warm towards our citizens. This is also obvious: the majority of Georgians are much more comfortable living with our state in peace. Russia is nearby, America is overseas. For Georgia, a country of the richest culture, connected with Russia by thousands of threads, Russophobia is nonsense, ugliness, a serious illness. Luckily, it’s completely curable.
We do not need a repetition of history-2008. We remain ready to tackle problems at the negotiating table in the spirit of the UN Charter. But if our concern has real outlines, we will not hesitate. In Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the idea of joining Russia is still popular. And it may well be implemented if there are good reasons for that.
“Abkhazia’s Foreign Ministry Issues Statement on Medvedev’s Remarks,” Abkhaz World, 24 August 2023. https://abkhazworld.com/aw/current-affairs/2486-abkhazia-s-foreign-ministry-issues-statement-on-medvedev-s-remarks
“In today’s environment, the international security system is under significant strain. We note a substantial escalation in tensions between the Russian Federation and the collective West. Many statements made in the media are viewed as outcomes of the intensifying geopolitical contest.
The millennia-old statehood of Abkhazia is not a subject for debate. Our legislation provides clear insight into this. The Republic of Abkhazia stands as a steadfast ally of the Russian Federation.
Our relations are governed by an extensive legal framework, comprising over 200 agreements. In the Republic of Abkhazia, repeated statements by senior Russian officials regarding the impossibility of revising the fundamental principles of bilateral relations are highly valued.The irrevocable path towards development as a sovereign, independent legal state has been chosen by the people and is protected by the paramount law – the Constitution of the Republic of Abkhazia.”
[ii] The statement by Medvedev set off a firestorm of media responses, but to put it in perspective, his comment was said at the end of a very lengthy diatribe in which he insulted, criticized, and lambasted the U.S. and the West in general, declaring western influence and intrigue as the roots of all problems Russia faces in Georgia and Ukraine. Despite the context Ukraine Pravda and Reuters for example led with the headline that Russia might “annex” Abkhazia and South Ossetia although that is not the word that Medvedev used. see: “Russia May Annex Georgian Breakaway Regions-Medvedev,” Reuters, 22 August 2023. https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russia-may-annex-georgian-breakaway-regions-medvedev-2023-08-22/
Image: Map of Republic of Georgia featuring the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Source: Ssolbergj, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_recognition_of_Abkhazia_and_South_Ossetia – /media/File:Georgia,_Ossetia,_Russia_and_Abkhazia_(en).svg
Attribution: CC BY SA-3.0