Not long after President of Russia Vladimir Putin announced partial mobilization in Russia, the Kremlin is reviewing the prospect of enlisting not only Russian citizens but also residents of the occupied region of Abkhazia in the war in Ukraine.
The majority of people who live in Abkhazia are Russian citizens, thus there is a theoretical possibility that they might be subject to military mobilization.
Beslan Tarba, Abkhazia’s separatist regime’s military commissar in charge of recruiting, stated in an interview with Sputnik Abkhazia on September 21 that “probably about 90% of us are Russian citizens.” The mobilization order, he continued, “partly also concerns the residents of our republic.”
Tarba declared, “We agree, we accept it, and, if necessary, we will have to carry out partial mobilization. We will, of course, do so when we receive a formal separate directive from our direct superiors.”
He continued by saying that no such instruction had yet been issued and, should it, only members of the military reserve would be impacted.
Tarba’s remarks increased the hysteria on social media about whether Abkhazians will be included in the draft. The alarm was exacerbated by seemingly false quotes from Nikolay Pankov, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister, who allegedly said that Abkhazia would be affected by the mobilization since “almost 100 percent of Abkhazia’s population are Russian citizens.”
The de facto authorities of Abkhazia rejected Tarba’s remarks and said Pankov’s purported phrase was a fabrication. The de facto defense ministry issued a statement on September 21 that said, “this view does not reflect the position of the Ministry of Defense and constitutes a personal view of Beslan Tarba.”
On the same day, the de facto foreign ministry issued a separate statement attributing the Pankov quotation to the schemes of “opponents seeking to foment fear in Abkhaz society and to attempts to harm relations between Abkhazia and Russia.
A mutual defense provision was included in the “Alliance and Strategic Partnership Treaty” that Russia and the de facto government of Abkhazia signed in 2014.
That treaty’s presence increased rumors that the residents of Abkhazia may be included in the draft. Particularly, Article 6 requires the parties to support one another in the event of an assault by another state.
Natalie Smyr, a former member of Abkhazia’s de facto parliament, stated on September 21 that “according to this treaty, we have obligations that there will also be partial mobilization because that is one of the conditions.”
The de facto government of Abkhazia is reportedly preparing the populace for partial mobilization, noted Apsnypress, the de facto state press agency of Abkhazia.
“Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Pustovalov held the first meeting of the Working Group to carry out a preliminary assessment and develop recommendations for improving mobilization readiness in the Republic of Abkhazia, created by order of the Prime Minister. The members of the Working Group discussed the issues of material, technical, financial and medical support of the Armed Forces of the Republic, organization of the work of medical draft commissions, repair of the barracks fund, proper interaction of the authorities with the army reserve, staffing of the subdivisions of the Ministry of Defense, employment of graduates of military educational institutions,” stated by Apsnypress.