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We don’t want to join Russia, breakaway Georgian region warns


Georgia’s separatist-held region of Abkhazia has firmly rejected suggestions it could be annexed by Russia, insisting that its autonomy from Moscow is not up for discussion.

In a statement issued by the unrecognized South Caucasus state’s foreign ministry on Thursday, officials said that while it is “a steadfast ally of the Russian Federation,” its self-proclaimed statehood “is not a subject for debate.”

The comments come shortly after the deputy chairman of the Kremlin’s Security Council, former president Dmitry Medvedev, hinted that Moscow could seek to absorb the two Russian-backed breakaway regions of neighboring Georgia — Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“The idea of joining Russia is still popular. And it may well be implemented, if there are good reasons for it,” said Medvedev, who has been one of the most enthusiastic cheerleaders of Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

However, despite the presence of thousands of Moscow’s troops deployed to Abkhazia in the wake of a series of wars with Georgian government forces — most recently in 2008 — officials in the capital said the suggestion amounted to nothing more than a sign of “intensifying geopolitical contest.”

Meanwhile, the secretary of Abkhazia’s security council, Sergey Shamba, went further, pointing out that there “are no political entities” in the region pushing for integration with Russia.

“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 went on.

Home to around a quarter of a million people and with its own distinct language, Abkhazia has existed as a de facto independent state from Georgia since a brutal civil war which followed the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Georgians were displaced from the region, which borders Russia, as part of a campaign by the separatists, who were frequently backed by elements of the Russian armed forces.

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