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21 Sep, 2009 12:45

Russia begins patrolling Abkhazian waters

The first Russian patrol boat has arrived in the Republic of Abkhazia to protect the sea borders of the young state which declared independence from Georgia last summer following Tbilisi's attack on South Ossetia.

It was recognized by Moscow in 2008.

The Novorossiysk is the first of a flotilla of up to ten vessels to be based at the Black Sea port of Ochamchira.

Russian border guards will be watching for illegal trespassers from neighboring Georgia.

At the moment, more than 1,000 servicemen from Russia’s border patrol units have started performing duties in Abkhazia. A total of more than 350 kilometers of border are being patrolled, including 215 kilometers of sea border, kilometers of land border and kilometers of river border.

“Our task is to safeguard the territorial waters of Abkhazia according to the treaty between Sukhum and Moscow. If we find that the republic is under threat, we'll act under international maritime law and UN conventions. We are not here to scare or fight anybody but to ensure law and order along Abkhazian borders,”
said Novorossiysk ship captain Faik Mamedov.

Vyacheslav Chirikba, a foreign policy adviser to the Abkhazian President, says the decision to send patrol boats to the republic is a lawful response to Georgian actions.

“Following Georgia’s capturing of peaceful cargo ships en route to Abkhazia in international waters, Russia felt compelled to protect Abkhazia from aggressive Georgian action,” Chirikba explained.

Russia’s Federal Security Service also announced that a base for Black Sea Fleet ships is to be established in Abkhazia.