• Category: Conflict

Battle for Gagra | Interview with Shamil Basayev

Finally, there has been much written about Russia’s involvement in Abkhazia. Most analysis insists that without Russian support Abkhazia would not have been able to break free (In fact, believing Abkhazia to be another Transdeniester, hundreds of Ukrainian volunteers fought on the Georgian side). However, there are problems with this analysis.


 First, most of the foreign fighters involved in Abkhazia were not Russian soldiers but, like Shamil Basayev, independent minded fighters from the north Caucasus. Others came from the Abkhazian diaspora, primarily from Turkey. Second, complaints of Russian armor and aircraft involved in the fighting as proof of Russian complicity is problematic, as all armor and aircraft on both sides of the conflict was of Russian/Soviet origin. Georgian officials have even claimed publicly that they themselves “rented” Russian tanks and their crews for combat missions by the day or even by the hour, more accurately suggesting that rather than an instrument of policy, the Russian army, in a state of flux in 1992, was open to the highest bidder. Assuming that Abkhazian separatism was a Kremlin supported policy, it is more accurate that Russian interests and those of the north Caucasus volunteers dovetailed in Abkhazia, albeit for different reasons, creating a condition where Yeltsin had to do little but stand by and watch those pesky Chechens fight their battles for them.

Read more: "Military Aspects of the War. The Battle for Gagra (The Turning-point), by Dodge Billingsley"

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