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The Weekly Tripwire – Issue 18

Vladimir Putin submitted to the State Duma the agreement with Tskhinvali on the inclusion of some South Ossetian units into the armed forces of the Russian Federation. Photo: kremlin.ru

November 27 – December 3

Russian MID angry about Javelins – The complicated fate of the Kilmarnock memorial – Russia to ratify South Ossetia military integration – Khajimba goes to North Ossetia – The Abkhaz get consulted in Moscow – Tskhinvali military celebration – New weaponry in Abkhazia – Sharp fall in Abkhazia agricultural exports – Sokhumi investment delegation in Jordan – 51st IPRM meeting held in Gali.

Dispatch from Moscow – Russian MID angry about Javelins: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Karasin was not pleased with the planned sale of the American anti-armor Javelin missiles to Georgia. He told the Geneva talks co-chairs that Western defense assistance to Georgia “directly encourages Tbilisi to new dangerous adventures in the region,” and “once again emphasized the danger of the deepening military cooperation between Tbilisi and NATO member states.”

The complicated fate of the Kilmarnock memorial: The East Ayrshire Council in Scotland says it will restore the controversial memorial in Kilmarnock “without any changes being made at this time.” The memorial may be changed in the future, however, pending “a meaningful dialogue with the aim of establishing a universally acceptable alternative wording and content, which the Council will then be pleased to put in place.” The Georgian side is concerned about the political message of the current form of the memorial, which includes the separatist Abkhaz flag. According to both Russian and Sokhumi representatives, the memorial commemorates the combatants who participated in the 1992-1993 war against the Tbilisi authorities, even though the East Ayrshire Council statement says it commemorates “simply all of those from Sukhumi whose lives were lost.”

Russia’s Network – Russia to ratify South Ossetia military integration: Vladimir Putin has passed on for ratification by the Russian State Duma Moscow’s March 31 agreement with Tskhinvali that envisions inclusion of some South Ossetian units into the armed forces of the Russian Federation.

Russia’s Network – Khajimba goes to North Ossetia: After visiting Tskhinvali, the Russian-backed Sokhumi leader Raul Khajimba went to the Russian Federation region of North Ossetia-Alania, meeting the local leader Vyacheslav Bitarov.

Russia’s Network – The Abkhaz get consulted in Moscow: Members of the Sokhumi “foreign ministry” and “ministry of economy” were in Moscow, holding consultations in the relevant agencies of the Russian Federation.

Russia’s Network – Tskhinvali military celebration: The Russian military base in Tskhinvali is transferring to the winter training period, and the Russian military leadership chose to observe this normally routine event with a special “celebratory rally,” sporting tanks and other military equipment. Tskhinvali administration representatives attended the celebration.

The Military Aspect – New weaponry in Abkhazia: The Southern Military District of the Russian armed forces says over 100 newest military vehicles have been supplied to the military base in Abkhazia in the last three years. Among these are T-72B3 tanks and BTR-82AM armored vehicles.

Sokhumi Happenings – Sharp fall in Abkhazia agricultural exports: Three times less citruses, feijoa and persimmons have been exported from Abkhazia to Russia in 2017 as compared to the previous year. 1 345 096 kilograms of citruses were exported in 2017, compared to 3 533 506 kg in 2016, with the amounts of feijoa comparing as 74 810 kg to 210 417 kg, and that of persimmons as 79 046 kg to 249 708 kg. The reason behind the drastic fall is failing harvests in 2017, largely resulting from the invasion of the brown stink bug.

Sokhumi investment delegation in Jordan: The head of the Sokhumi “investment agency” Simon Agrba went to Jordan, accompanied by a delegation. While the visit occurred on invitation from the unofficial entities in Jordan, and the guests from Sokhumi met with local businessmen and the Circassian diaspora, they also reportedly met with the speaker of the Jordanian Parliament Atef Tarawneh. According to the Abkhaz media, holding a joint economic forum in Abkhazia in 2018 was agreed during the visit.

On the Line – 51st IPRM meeting held in Gali: The Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism meeting took place on November 28. The murder case of Giga Otkhozoria was discussed, with the EU monitoring mission representatives underlining that justice had not been properly served. Cases of people detained by the Russian-backed Sokhumi authorities for a long term and the borderization process were also discussed at the meeting.

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