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Russian surveillance of Abkhazia’s skies2009-02-03 09:26
The Russian General Staff has chosen the small town of Bombora outside Gudauta to be an air force base. In Soviet times a paratroopers' regiment was based there. Now about 20 aeroplanes are proposed to be stationed there: Su-27 fighters, Su-25 low-flying attack aircraft and some An-26 transport aircraft.
"The question of stationing a Russian air force unit at the Bombora airfield," a military-diplomatic source in Moscow told Interfax, "is being discussed at consultations with the Abkhazians alongside the possible creation of a naval base for Black Sea Fleet vessels in Ochamchira."
And he gave the following details.
This military airfield is the largest in the Caucasus region. Stationing a Russian air force unit on it will not require any large additional expenditure because all the necessary ground infrastructure already exists there.
Thanks to its four-kilometre long landing strip, Bombora is capable of receiving all types of fighter and transport planes. Moreover, the landing strip almost runs up to the sea shore, which allows the aircraft to stay at low altitude after taking off, hence becoming practically undetectable by the enemy's radar.
A source in Abkhazia's presidential administration also confirmed to the newspaper Vedomosti that consultations were being held. "The republic's leadership supports this idea," he said. "In its time this was an effective military airfield. And naturally, it would also be expedient to use it now."
Incidentally, this expediency was confirmed during the August war. The airfield received transport planes carrying paratroopers who were subsequently disarmed by the remnants of the Georgian army. Weapons seized as military spoils were also sent on to Russia from there.
Abkhazia's Deputy Defence Minister Zakan Nanba declared back in early September that the republic was ready to hand over Bombora to be used by Russia. Tbilisi responded in outrage: neither they nor their allies would tolerate a Russian military presence on Georgian territory. And they would try to activate "international levers" to prevent this.
"Regarding the creation of an air base," Georgia's Minister for Reintegration Temur Yakobashvili told Nezavisimaya Gazeta, "I can only repeat what I said a few days ago about the naval base: they would be better off spending this money on Russia's domestic needs because in time both this base and any others will be eliminated."
The West is also displeased.