The head of Abkhazia’s Security Council has stated that a planned Russian naval base could begin operating in Abkhazia as early as this year.
Sergei Shamba told Russian state news agency RIA on 12 January that the planned port in Ochamchira (Ochamchire) was still in the design phase. He added that the base would serve to ensure the security of Abkhazia.
‘Since 2008, we have had no incidents with the seizure of ships at sea, the situation in the border area is calm’, said Shamba.
Abkhazian President Aslan Bzhaniya first announced the construction of the base in October 2023. Since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, headquartered in occupied Crimea, has repeatedly come under attack from Ukrainian drones and missiles.
[Read more: Russia to establish naval base in Abkhazia]
After Bzhaniya’s announcement of the naval base, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to strike Russian warships stationed in Abkhazia.
‘The Russian leader was forced to announce the creation of a new base for the Black Sea Fleet […] as far as possible from Ukrainian missiles and sea drones, but we will get them everywhere’, Zelensky said.
In response, Bzhaniya accused Ukraine of wanting to ‘provoke a military situation in the Caucasus and unleash a new bloody war’.
Georgian officials have also objected to the base. However, Alexander Khrolenko, a journalist at Russian state media Sputnik, wrote that Russia ‘does not intend to threaten anyone’ from the planned naval base, noting that the base would be located 300 kilometres away from Tbilisi.
The port in Ochamchira has been under Russian control since 2009; Russia has since used it for the construction of ships and boats and has protected it with its own border guards.
For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.