Russian President Dmitry Medvedev paid a surprise visit to the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia, where he pledged further support for Abkhazia and South Ossetia as the two regions commemorated the 2008 five-day war.
Russia recognizes Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sunday defended Moscow's position to support two Georgian breakaway regions and assured Abkhazia of its support during an unscheduled visit to the region's capital, Sukhumi.
"I regret nothing," Medvedev said as he chatted to Russian tourists on Abkhazia's Black Sea coast. "If we had not recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia, we would not be drinking coffee here. More likely, there would have been a prolonged, bloody conflict. We prevented a bloodbath," the president said.
His visit coincides with the second anniversary of the 2008 five-day war between Russia and Georgia over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which cost hundreds of lives.
Abkhazia may have its own flag, but most countries do not recognize it
The two provinces declared independence from Georgia and have since been supported by Russia, much to the annoyance of the EU and the US, who insist that Georgia's territorial integrity should be maintained. Only Venezuela, Nicaragua and the Pacific island of Nauru recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.
"These territories are now recognized as occupied territories and these kind of trips will not change that or add anything positive to the region," Deputy Prime Minister Temur Yakobashvili told the news agency Agence France Presse.
Abkhazia's rebel leader Sergei Bagapsh, however, thanked Medvedev "for finding time," to visit the region.
Medvedev also visited a Russian military base in the nearby city of Gudauta, where he thanked troops for their service.
Author: Nicole Goebel (AFP,dpa)
Editor: Tony Dunham