Breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia has no plans to join Russia: Officials

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Abkhazia, a Russian-backed breakaway region of Georgia, has no plans to join Russia, officials said, after the nearby region of South Ossetia said it would take steps to do so.

Moscow recognized both South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent after fighting a war with Georgia in 2008. It stationed thousands of troops in both regions and has provided them with extensive financial support.

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“Russia is our strategic partner, a dear and close state, but we in the republic (of Abkhazia) have no intention of joining the Russian Federation,” parliamentary speaker Valery Kvarchia told Interfax news agency on Wednesday.

Another official from Abkhazia, Security Council Secretary Sergei Shamba, told TASS news agency that the region supported South Ossetia’s aspirations but that it did not share its goal to join Russia.

South Ossetia plans to hold a referendum on joining Russia after a regional election scheduled to take place on April 10, RIA news agency reported.

Moscow has used diplomatic recognition as an instrument to maintain an armed presence in breakaway regions of the former Soviet Union that it sees as part of its sphere of influence.

In Ukraine, Russia’s long-standing support for armed separatists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk gave it a platform to launch a full-scale invasion on February 24. Moscow calls its military action in Ukraine a “special operation.”

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