Putin’s Indecisiveness Comes Home to Roost: Attempted Coup in Abkhazia

by John Galt
May 28, 2014 17:50 ET

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The future of Russia as well as NATO is in the balance and evidence of attempts to destabilize both sides became apparent overnight as the former Republic of Georgia region of Abkhazia, now under Russian Federation control, experienced an attempted coup per media reports.

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty several hours ago:

Abkhazia’s De Facto President Denounces ‘Coup Attempt’

The de facto president of Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia has described the opposition’s takeover of the presidential administration building in the regional capital, Sukhumi, as an “armed coup attempt.”

However, Aleksandr Ankvab, in an interview with Abhaz television broadcast early on May 28, said that “there was still a chance to bring the situation back into the legal framework.”

He said he was still in Abkhazia but did not reveal his location.

Ankvab also said that “a large number of people, some of them armed” had seized state television.

Protesters on May 27 stormed the building where Ankvab’s office is located after a demonstration by several thousand people.  Ankvab agreed to the demonstrators’ demand to dismiss the government, but the demonstration continued, with the opposition demanding that he also step down.

Ankvab was forced to leave after demonstrators broke into the building.

Disgruntled Opposition

Unconfirmed reports said Ankvab later left Sukhumi for Gudauta, his home district.

The opposition accuses Ankvab of authoritarian practices and is demanding reforms.

One of the leaders of the opposition, Raul Khajimba, told the crowd on May 27 that the opposition was “temporarily taking over the reins” of power.

The opposition on May 28 remained in control of the presidential administration building. The parliament failed to meet for an emergency session after many lawmakers did not show up.

The Russian Foreign Ministry voiced concern over the escalation of tensions in Abkhazia. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin spoke by telephone with Abkhazia’s de facto foreign minister.

A senior Abkhaz security official said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aide, Vladislav Surkov, was expected to arrive in Sukhumi later on May 28.

The official said Surkov, who is in charge of overseeing Moscow’s relations with Abkhazia and Georgia’s other breakaway region, South Ossetia, would be accompanied by Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Rashid Nurgaliyev.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia are recognized as independent states only by Russia and a handful of other nations.

Tbilisi insists the two regions are part of Georgia.

This action appears to be quite possibly a Western sponsored attempt to destabilize a region one thought of as secure by Moscow. Putin’s indecisiveness or bizarre strategy in Eastern Ukraine may have emboldened pro-NATO and pro-Georgian elements to attempt this coup and now will force Russia to start paying attention to more than one fire on its doorstep. If Putin does not act soon, as I suggested in a prior article (Putin’s Ukrainian Dilemma: Invade Ukraine Soon or Become the Obama of Eurasia) where his indecision indicates either economic considerations or the potential reality that Russia is nothing more than a paper tiger, willing to roar when the odds are overwhelmingly in their favor. The response to this attempted coup and events currently unfolding in Donetsk and Lugansk might well determine European economic and geopolitical conditions for decades to come based on the response from the Kremlin.

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