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11 Aug, 2010 13:03

Abkhazia hosts S-300 air defense unit

The Russian military has deployed an S-300 long-range air defense system on the territory of Abkhazia. Georgia sees the move as a threat to its security.

Head of the Russian Air Force Aleksandr Zelin told journalists on Wednesday that the system, which his military branch controls, can “prevent the violation of state borders in airspace and destroy any aircraft breaching the airspace of the covered territory, whatever their goals are.”

The deployment is part of the military co-operation agreement between Russia and Abkhazia, which was signed in February 2010. Moscow has been granted land in Abkhazian territory for several military bases on a 49-year-long lease. The S-300 anti-aircraft unit is to defend one of the airfields, along with a number of short-range air defense troops.

Viktor Mizin, political analyst from the Institute of Strategic Assessment, says it is a logical step after Georgia's aggression.

“It wasn’t Russia who started the war, it was the Georgian regime of Saakashvili who attacked South Ossetia and also which planned attacks against Abkhazia. And now that the Russian military bases are deployed in Abkhazia to protect the population and the peace in the region – it is quite logical,” he told RT.

Meanwhile AFP cites Georgian officials as saying that the S-300 unit poses a threat to Georgian and NATO forces.