The messenger logo

Threat of naval confrontation

By Messenger Staff
Monday, September 7
Abkhazian de facto President Sergey Baghapsh has issued an order to the ‘Abkhaz Navy’ (?!) to sink Georgian vessels if they interfere with the passage of vessels bound for Sokhumi which are in Georgian territorial waters, which the separatists claim have become Abkhaz territorial waters (?!) This is the answer of the Abkhaz puppet regime to the detention by Georgian coast guards of several different vessels bound for Sokhumi.

It is obvious that this action, like many previous arrogant ones, is supported by Russia as vessels violating Georgian territorial waters have been detained previously and the separatists, although protesting, would not dare to make such threats now without Russian support. All of a sudden something called the Abkhaz Navy has appeared from nowhere! It is obvious that this is further evidence of Russia’s continued aggression against Georgia. The Russian military base in Ochamchire, which hosts some Russian combat ships, is on alert and it is most likely that Moscow is preparing a very serious full scale provocation against Georgia in the Black Sea.

In the last twelve months the Georgian coastguard has detained 23 vessels for illegally entering the Georgian waters adjacent to the occupied territories. Over the last four years around 70 boats have been detained. In each such case the scenario is very similar - the offending vessel is detained and taken to Poti port, its cargo is confiscated, its crew is detained for a short period of time, the captain of the ship is put in prison and the boat put out of action. If the owners do not pay the fine levied on them the boat is sold at auction or confiscated.

One of the most recent of these detentions was that of the Turkish ship Buket, which was transporting into Abkhazia 1,000 tonnes of benzine and 700 tonnes of diesel. The cargo and boat were confiscated and the captain was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment. It should be admitted that this long sentence was given as a message to other ship owners and captains and the Russian side to conduct itself according to the international Law of the Sea. However the most significant factor in this case was the reaction of the so-called Abkhaz President, who gave the abovementioned order. The Abkhazian separatists, cynically enough, compared the behaviour of the Georgian coastguards to that of Somali pirates. The so-called Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Abkhaz puppet regime Sergey Shamba said, tellingly, that the situation had become intolerable since US Vice President Joe Biden visited Tbilisi, Russian slang for “Normality means every country in the Caucasus must be a Russian puppet.”

Georgian political analysts and politicians suggest that the Abkhaz regime’s reaction demonstrates that the Russian Federation has adopted new tactics. “The Russian side wants to strain the situation in the region as much as possible,” says opposition MP Paata Davitaia. Of course there is no doubt that every single move Abkhazia makes inside or outside its ‘borders’, and in particular those in military affairs, is prompted, initiated or executed by the Kremlin. There is no such body as the Abkhaz Navy as the puppet regime does not have the vessels, equipment or sailors to carry out any kind of combat mission in the sea. However the Russians do, and it is not a great stretch of the imagination to see Russian military ships bearing Abkhazian ” flags” attacking Georgian ships and even blockading Poti Port while Russia shrugs its shoulders and says that Moscow is not responsible for the actions of the Navy of an independent country.

Military analyst Irakli Sesiashvili foresees this scenario. As Poti Port is a very important strategic facility internationally US and EU diplomats will try to find certain compromises and thereby give some benefits to the Abkhaz separatists. “This is possibly the Kremlin’s plan,” Sesiashvili states. Georgian analysts recommend that the country’s leadership keeps calm and avoids being trapped in new provocations. The Georgian coastguard cannot control the country’s territorial waters from the north side, so Russian boats bound for Abkhazia enter the waters without any problems. The Georgian side can only control movement from the Turkish side.

Georgian analysts recommend that the authorities ask the Turkish authorities to take appropriate measures to prevent Turkish vessels illegally transportation goods to the puppet state of Abkhazia.