Russian Diplomat on Abkhazia, S. Ossetia, Geneva Talks

In an interview with Russian state-owned Ria Novosti news agency, unveiled on April 25, Director of the Fourth Department of the CIS countries of the Russian Foreign Ministry Denis Gonchar, discussed Moscow’s support to Abkhazia and Tskhinvali/South Ossetia regions, as well as the postponement of the Geneva International Discussions.

The Russian official noted that overall, the situation across Abkhazia’s and S. Ossetia’s dividing lines with the rest of Georgia remains “quite stable.”

“We also note the reduction in the number of incidents and provocative statements.”

Gonchar said the next step should be the resumption of Gali IPRM meeting between Tbilisi and Sokhumi representatives, stalled since 2018 over Tbilisi’s Otkhozoria-Tatunashvil list.

The Incident Prevention and Response Mechanisms (IPRM) format was established under the Geneva International Discussions to address the security concerns and developments on the ground on a regular basis, and involves officials from Tbilisi on the one hand and representatives of Tskhinvali and Sokhumi authorities on the other in two, separate meetings, as well as representatives of the Russian border troops.

Russian Support to Abkhazia, Tskhinvali Regions

Gonchar also spoke of the Russian support to occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions against the backdrop of international sanctions, imposed by the western governments on Russia over its bloody invasion of Ukraine.

The MID official said the Russian restrictions in the sphere of foreign economic activity and export bans on certain goods are not applied to Sokhumi and Tskhinvali, considering their requests.

Gonchar further noted the Russian investment programs for 2020-2022, currently implemented in these two regions and funded with 4.5 billion rubles each (USD 60 million).

He further spoke of Moscow’s budget allocations for Sokhumi and Tskhinvali this year: to Abkhazia in the amount of 5.726 billion rubles (USD 77 mln.), of which 4.376 billion rubles are envisaged for the current costs of social and economic development; and 7.2 billion rubles (USD 97 mln) for S. Ossetia of which 5.9 billion rubles is allocated for social-economic development.

Geneva Talks

Speaking of the Geneva International Discussions, Gonchar criticized the Co-Chairs from the EU, UN and the OSCE for postponing the discussion.

“These participants of the talks in fact took hostage the most important negotiation format, through which an acceptable level of security and stability was maintained in the region. The entire responsibility for the breakdown of the talks lies entirely with them.”

The Russian diplomat also noted “logistical difficulties because of the restrictive measures imposed on Russia by the European Union… and by Switzerland, which hosts the format.”

“All these unfriendly and politicized steps by Western ‘partners’ do not help the cause of strengthening stability and security in the South Caucasus and may lead to uncertainty in this region.”

The Geneva International Discussions (GID) is the multilateral forum to address security and humanitarian consequences of the Russo-Georgian War of August 2008.

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