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Abkhazia: Russia guarantees our economic security for now, but NATO could be in the future

A senior adviser to the president of Abkhazia, Nadir Bitiev, is visiting Washington this week. Bitiev is the highest-ranking Abkhazian official ever to visit D.C., but he is doing it in an unofficial capacity (and traveling on his New Zealand passport, to ease visa troubles). He sat down with me for a conversation at the National Press Club; following are some of the excerpts of his take on Abkhazia's military and security situation, in particular the Russian military presence on Abkhazian territory.

The 2008 war between Russia and Georgia resulted in Russian recognition of Abkhazian independence, and agreements with Moscow that have resulted in 1,200 Russian troops each at a naval border patrol base in Ochamchire and at a land forces base in Gudauta, leading many (especially Western) observers to conclude that Abkhazia was merely a Russian colony. But Bitiev emphasized the Russians' role in preserving Abkhazian independence.

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Abkhazia: Russia guarantees our economic security for now, but NATO could be in the future

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