Aslan Bzhania, the de facto President of Georgia’s Russian-occupied Abkhazia region, on Friday claimed he had discussed the region’s possible joining the union state in a meeting with Vladimir Putin this week.
Speaking with the local media, he also reaffirmed the signing of a new deal with Moscow that envisages the deployment of the Russian naval base in the city of Ochamchire.
"We also discussed the issues of gasification of the republic and later the construction of a gas-powered station for generating electricity. This idea was supported by the President of Russia. We asked for support in the repair of the bridge over Gumista and the construction of a new bridge. The necessity of overhauling the Sukhumi military road in the Kodori valley was also mentioned, and we received understanding [from Putin] over the matter”, he said.
Bzhania claimed the region had “every reason” to hope for Russia's support, including over investments, adding “it will bring tangible benefits to future generations, strengthen our statehood, make our country attractive and comfortable to live in, and solve many social problems”.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Thursday said Moscow’s alleged plans to move its naval base to the occupied Ochamchire city was a "continuation of the occupation" and "further worsens this situation, which accompanies the occupation".
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia also expressed concerns and called the move "another provocative attempt" aimed at "legitimizing the illegal occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions".
The European Union ambassador to Georgia called the possible developments "extremely disturbing".