posted at 17:50
Author Name: Associated Press
Russias Control Over Black Sea Region
MOSCOW - Russia tightened its control Monday over Georgia's breakaway province of Abkhazia with a new treaty envisaging closer military and economic ties with the lush sliver of land along the Black Sea. The move drew outrage and cries of "Annexation" in Georgia and sent a chill through those in Abkhazia who fear that wealthy Russians will snap up their precious coastline. Under the treaty signed by Putin and Abkhazia's leader in the nearby Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russian and Abkhazian forces in the territory will turn into a joint force led by a Russian commander. Putin said Moscow will also double its subsidies to Abkhazia to about 9.3 billion rubles next year. Russian troops have been deployed in Abkhazia for more than two decades since the region of 240,000 people broke away from Georgia in a separatist war in the early 1990s. "The United States will not recognize the legitimacy of any so-called 'treaty' between Georgia's Abkhazia region and the Russian Federation," the U.S. State Department said in a statement. Unlike Ankvab, who had resisted Moscow's push to let Russians buy assets in Abkhazia, Khadzhimba has appeared more eager to listen to Russia's demands. The deal with Abkhazia appears to reflect Moscow's concerns that Saakashvili's party could mount a political comeback and push for stronger ties with the West.

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