The Russian military bases in occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia will take part in Russia’s military exercises Kavkaz-2020 planned for September 21-26.
The Russian Defense Ministry reports that the drills will include more than 8,000 artillerymen, 3,000 units of MLRS and artillery, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance and targeting.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu reportedly said on September 8 that “participation of military contingents of nine foreign countries is planned. Nine more will send military observers.”
Russian MoD also reported today that in Abkhazia, at the Tsebelda range, a tactical exercise was held involving more than 1,000 servicemen of the artillery, motorized rifle, and reconnaissance units of the Russian military base.
Since the 2008 Russo-Georgian War Russia stepped up its military presence in Georgia’s occupied regions, where it now operates two military bases. Both 7th (Abkhazia) and 4th (Tskhinvali) military bases fall under the command of the Southern Military District and operationally are subject to the 49th and 58th Armies (HQ in Stavropol and Vladikavkaz, respectively).
Tbilisi has repeatedly expressed concerns about the Russian-led drills and military presence in the occupied regions. Then Reconciliation Minister Ketevan Tsikhelashvili said in January that the exercises turn the two Kremlin-backed regions, especially Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, into “nothing more than an extended [Russian] military base.”