Russia Will Build Base in Abkhazia

Russia will start building a Black Sea naval base this year in the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia, Itar-Tass cited a military official as saying Monday.

Plans for a Russian base, if confirmed, would clearly anger Tbilisi, which demands return of the territory to full Georgian sovereign control. It may also arouse concern in Washington, closely allied to Georgia and wary of a resurgence in Russian naval activity.

Itar-Tass cited an unidentified official at Russian Navy headquarters as saying it wanted to station vessels at the Abkhaz port of Ochamchire.

"The fundamental decision on creating a Black Sea Fleet base in Ochamchire has been taken," the official said.

The official said the deployment was to protect the rebel region from Georgian attacks.

The Navy could not immediately be reached for comment.