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Georgia Breakaway State Allows Russian Base

NewsMax, 16 February 2010

MOSCOW – Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region said on Tuesday it would allow sponsor Russia to build a military base on its soil for land troops, strengthening the region's dependence on Moscow and provoking ire from Tbilisi.

Abkhazia's leader Sergei Bagapsh, who arrived in Moscow on Tuesday, will sign the deal with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday, separatist officials said

The Kremlin confirmed the meeting would take place but declined immediate comment on any military agreement.

Moscow recognized the lush Black Sea territory in August 2008 after crushing an assault by U.S. ally Georgia on the other pro-Russian breakaway region of South Ossetia in a five-day war.

"The agreement on Wednesday will allow for one, united military base on Abkhaz territory, for Russian land troops," the rebel region's deputy defense minister, Garri Kupalba, told Reuters by telephone from the regional capital Sukhumi.

He said the new base, which would link several points across Abkhazia and accommodate at least 3,000 land troops, including units of Russia's FSB border guards, would be built "sometime in the near future."

The European Union and Western alliance NATO have repeatedly expressed concern that a Moscow-led military build-up in Abkhazia threatens Georgia's territorial integrity.

It is also watched with unease by Western powers for its proximity to crucial energy routes which flow to the EU.

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