The Russian border fence that divides Georgia and South Ossetia
The Georgian Foreign Ministry believes that discussions on the state border will be possible only when the Russian occupation of Georgian territory ends
Georgia is not going to discuss the issue of delimiting the state border with Russia until Moscow fulfills the ceasefire agreement of August 12, 2008 and ends the occupation of Georgian territories. This applies both to the section of the state border that is not controversial, and to those sections that are located on the territory of the occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This is stated in the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia in response to the appointment of Mikhail Petrakov as the special representative of the President of the Russian Federation for the delimitation and demarcation of the state border with the CIS countries, as well as, as stated in the corresponding decree, “with the Republic of Abkhazia, Georgia and the Republic of South Ossetia.”.
“Any agreement signed by the Russian Federation with Sukhumi and Tskhinvali, including on the border, is devoid of legal grounds, is illegal, and by the international community will be assessed as another attempt to display force on the border of a sovereign state … The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia calls on the Russian The Federation should observe the fundamental norms of international law, withdraw the occupying troops and de-occupy the Georgian territories, ”the Georgian Foreign Ministry said..
Recall that twelve years after Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and transferred additional troops and weapons to its military bases in these territories, the independence of these two Georgian regions was recognized only by Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru and Syria. All other states of the world consider these regions as the territory of Georgia under Russian occupation..
Dispute around the village of Aibga
If in Tskhinvali the separatist authorities have no questions about where the so-called “border” with Russia will be drawn, since they have repeatedly expressed their desire to annex the Tskhinvali region to the Russian Federation, then this issue is painful for Abkhazia.
For years, Moscow and Sukhumi have been negotiating the delimitation of the Abkhaz-Russian “state border” and the delimitation of maritime spaces in the Black Sea without tangible results and in compliance with secrecy..
Russia does not hide the fact that it has territorial claims against the separatist authorities regarding the border village of Aibga. When the Georgian media reported in 2019 that Russia had annexed Mount Aibga, the head of the de facto Foreign Ministry of Abkhazia Daur Kove explained that “the Abkhaz-Russian commission on delimitation and demarcation continues to work” to resolve this issue. In 2020, the start of construction of a suspension bridge connecting the village of Aibgu with the Adler district without official approval from Sukhumi caused discontent among the Abkhaz public. As local media wrote, by delaying the payment of money to the separatist region, Moscow forced the new Abkhaz de facto president Aslana Bzhaniyu make a number of concessions, including those related to this village. Although there is no official information in this regard yet.
After a meeting with the President of Russia, which took place on November 12 in Sochi, answering a question from journalists at a press conference in Sukhumi, Bzhania confirmed that he had discussed the issue of the disputed village with Putin..
“The Russian authorities are not going, as I understand it, to annex this territory (the village of Aibga), as I understand it … In this regime, in the regime of good-neighborly relations, this problem will be resolved,” Bzhania said on November 17.
The separatist leader also said that he had provided Putin with the relevant documents, most likely documents from the Soviet Union, according to which the territory, which Moscow and Sukhumi cannot agree on, was part of the Georgian SSR.
“I told him (Putin) about what I know about the Aibga settlement, from the documents that the Abkhaz side has. He took this into account, “Bzhania said and explained that during the” calm discussion “Putin promised to resolve the issue” fairly and legally. “.
Risks and opportunities
Political scientist from the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies Kakha Gogolashvili believes that the situation is not easy, and that both refusal and consent on the part of Tbilisi to participate in the process of delimiting the border with the Russian Federation contains certain risks for Georgia.
In particular, if the Georgian side refuses to discuss the border issue with Russia, it is fraught with the fact that Russian border guards may occupy Georgian villages, for example, in the Truso gorge or in another place, and then explain this by the fact that they consider this territory to be Russian, since do not have the opportunity to discuss this issue due to Georgia’s refusal to participate in the border determination process.
Gogolashvili believes that, most likely, it would be more practical for Tbilisi to agree to a “minimal discussion”, i.e. on the delimitation of those territories that are not under Russian occupation. The expert says that despite the fact that Russian guarantees “do not deserve trust”, still Georgia should not give Russia the opportunity to use any, even weak, argument against itself..
“I think that Georgia should pursue a pragmatic policy towards Russia, emphasize its irreconcilable attitude towards the Russian occupation, but also not give arguments that can be used against the Georgian state. As for Petrakov, as a new person in a new position, it is quite possible that he will activate this topic, so with his appointment the risks associated with the delimitation of the border between Georgia and the Russian Federation may increase, “summed up Kakha Gogolashvili.