U.S. Envoy Slams Abkhaz Base Plan

BRUSSELS — Russia must refrain from opening a naval base in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia and should agree to extend the mandate of UN monitors in the region, a senior U.S. envoy said.

"The possible deployment of a naval base in Abkhazia, an air base in Abkhazia and a military base in South Ossetia seems to be moving in the wrong direction," Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza said.

Georgia's leaders accuse Russia of effectively annexing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a second breakaway region that was the focus of Russia's war with Georgia last August. "Russia pledged to reduce its troops to the levels and locations of before the Russia-Georgia war," said Bryza, an envoy to the region. "Russia is already in violation of those commitments. … Deploying a naval base would be another violation." He said Russia should not prevent the extension of a mandate for UN observers in the region, which needs extending by Feb. 15.