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Putin Visits Georgia’s Breakaway Abkhazia, Angers Tbilisi

Russian President Vladimir Putin has paid a visit to Georgian breakaway enclave Abkhazia, assuring it of Moscow’s military support, and angering Tbilisi and its Western allies.

Mr. Putin’s controversial visit coincided with the 9th anniversary of the 5-day war between Georgia and Russia, in which Russian security forces consolidated their foothold in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

A week before the Russian president’s visit to the Abkhazian resort town of Pitsunda, Vice President Mike Pence was in Tbilisi and denounced the Russian presence in the Georgian territory.

Except for few countries such as Nicaragua, both Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain unrecognized internationally. Most of the people in those enclaves have Russian passports.

Mr. Putin told Raul Khadzhimba, leader of Abkhazia, that Kremlin will build a military contingent to protect the enclave from the Georgian aggression.

The conflict, which flared up in August 2008, remained largely frozen until today. The Russian military campaign, which extended all the way to Georgian city of Gori, just 50 miles away from capital Tbilisi, was a response to Georgia’s intention to join NATO.

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili told Reuters on Tuesday that Mr. Putin’s visit to Abkhazia was “a violation of international law and trying to legitimize the historical injustice that the Russian Federation committed against Georgia”.

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