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16 Sep, 2009 12:03

Russia to scour Abkhazian waters for Georgian ships

Russian border guards patrolling the Black Sea will be detaining ships from Georgia trespassing in Abkhazian waters.

“In the event of a violation of the border, we will act in accordance with the law. If we are in charge of protecting the border, we make detentions and take appropriate measures,” Viktor Trufanov from the Russian Federal Security Service told journalists on Tuesday.

“We will do everything we can to ensure the security of the Russian state and the security of the Abkhaz state. We have a task and we will accomplish it. You can be sure of that. But the border guard service is not going to destroy [any ships],” he added.

Earlier, the FSB frontier service announced that Russian and Abkhazian guards will be providing security for ships in Abkhazia’s territorial waters to prevent detention by Georgia.

“According to the International Convention on Maritime Law, only the territory of 12 nautical miles from the border of any state belongs to its territorial waters,” Professor Aleksandr Nikitin of the Moscow State Institute for International Affairs explains.

“This is why, when we speak about protection of Abkhazian waters, we only mean the trespassing within this quite narrow strip of water. All in all, if any kind of blockade will be organized by the Georgian side, the Russian navy will assist Abkhazians in opening their territorial waters for international access,” Nikitin added.

In the latest development, the Georgian Foreign Ministry declared that the country will not allow Russia to detain its ships in Abkhazian waters.

“The Georgian side confirms that it intends to stop the pirate actions of the Russian side with existing legal, diplomatic and political means,” the ministry statement said.

It also pointed out that according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 12 miles of Abkhazia’s sea zone, special economic zone and continental shelf belong to Georgia.

“The statement of the Russian side has once again indicated that Russia continues its policy of disrupting international law norms and principles, as well as its international obligations,” the statement added.

In summer this year, Georgia detained and later released the Panamanian-flagged Turkish tanker, Buket, which was en route from Turkey to Abkhazia carrying 2,000 tons of diesel oil.

Georgia considers Abkhazia a part of its territory. It sees the delivery of cargoes to the republic without its permission as illegal.

According to a border agreement between Russia and Abkhazia, it implies a joint effort by the two countries to ensure the security of Abkhazia’s territorial waters.

Also, on Tuesday, Russia signed additional agreements with the republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, under which Russia will be building military bases and training troops on their territory.

The new deal is aimed at strengthening the defense of both Russia and the republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russia will send up to 1,700 of its troops to each of the republics.

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