Abkhazia

Located in the southern Caucasus, it came under Russian rule at the start of the 19th century. Following the Russian Revolution, it became a Soviet Socialist Republic, before being incorporated into the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, as an autonomous republic, in 1931.

On 23 July 1992, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Abkhazia unilaterally declared independence. Although Georgia tried to reassert its authority, Abkhaz forces aided by Russia were able to hold on to most of the territory until, in May 1994, an UN-monitored ceasefire was reached.

Although peace talks were held in the years that followed, in August 2008 Russia and Abkhazia launched an operation to take back the remaining territory held by Georgia.

Moscow then announced that it had recognized Abkhazia as an independent state; as did five other countries: Venezuela, Nicaragua, and the Pacific island states of Nauru, Vanuatu, and Tuvalu.

Overall, it’s hard to see where things go from here. There’s little immediate prospect of reunification. Meanwhile, wider international recognition seems highly unlikely.

This is one of the most clearly frozen of all the independence conflicts. South Ossetia is different. Despite the international recognition it has received alongside Abkhazia, I’m not entirely convinced it is truly a de facto state.

Nor do I think it truly aspires to independence. Instead, many believe the aim is to unite with Russia.

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