Military of Abkhazia

Military of Abkhazia
Founded 12 October 1992
Service branches Abkhazian Air Force
Abkhazian Army
Abkhazian Navy
Commander-in-Chief Raul Khajimba
Minister of Defence Mirab Kishmaria
Chief of Staff Anatoly Khrulyov
Foreign suppliers  Russia
 South Ossetia
Related articles
History Military history of Abkhazia
Ranks Military ranks of Abkhazia

The Abkhazian Armed Forces are the military of Abkhazia.[notes 1]

The Ministry of Defence and the General Staff of the Abkhazian armed forces were officially created on 12 October 1992, after the outbreak of the 1992-1993 war with Georgia.[1] The basis of the armed forces was formed by the ethnic Abkhaz National Guard created early in 1992 prior to the outbreak of the war. During the war, the Abkhazian forces - with the critical support from the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus, Cossack volunteers and Russian regular military units[2][3] stationed in or near Abkhazia - succeeded in defeating the Georgian troops; Georgians , Armenians, Greeks, Russians and Abkhaz were killed.[4] Roughly 200,000 to 250,000 Georgian civilians became Internally displaced persons (IDPs).[5][6][7][8] Most of the military's weapons come from the Russian airborne division base in Gudauta,[9][10] while others were captured from Georgian forces.

On 24 November 2014 the governments of Abkhazia and Russia signed a treaty of cooperation that creates a joint force of troops from the two countries.[11]

Current situation

Georgia regards the Abkhaz armed forces as "unlawful military formations" and accuses Russia of supplying and training the Abkhaz troops, partly in exchange for Abkhaz land or hotels. The Abkhaz deny this, saying they bought what they have on the free market except for five sea cutters received from Russia and speedboats from the Abkhaz diaspora in Greece.[12] In March 2005, then Abkhazian defence minister Sultan Sosnaliev admitted that the senior and middle-ranking officers in the Abkhaz army are regularly sent to Russia for 2-3 month training courses within the framework of the Russia's "Vystrel" (Shot) program.[13]

Sosnaliev himself is a Russian officer from the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic (Russian Federation) and held the same post during the Abkhazian war, when Chechen field commander and militant Shamil Basayev was his deputy. Similarly, former chief of staff, Major General Anatoly Zaitsev had previously served as deputy commander of the Transbaikal Military District (now part of the Siberian Military District) in Russia. Another top official, Deputy Defence Minister Aleksandr Pavlushko is a Russian colonel and the former chief of staff of the Russian peacekeeping forces in Abkhazia.[14] Georgia also regularly accuses Abkhazia of forcibly recruiting Georgian returnees from the Gali district into the armed forces.[12]

The Abkhaz military is primarily a ground force but includes small sea and air units. In 2006, an "anti-terrorist centre" of some 200 personnel was created under the de facto ministry of interior. The de facto minister of finance estimated, in 2006, that 35 per cent of Abkhazia’s budget was spent on the military and police.[12]

On 8 May 2007, Minister of Defence and Vice Premier Sultan Sosnaliyev resigned.[15] He was succeeded as Defence Minister (but not as Vice Premier) by First Deputy Defence Minister Mirab Kishmaria, in an acting fashion from 10 May and permanently from 26 July onwards.[16]

On 14 April 2010, five Deputy Ministers of Defence were retired, including Chief of the Armed Forces Anatoli Zaitsev.[17] Aslan Ankvab was appointed acting First Deputy Minister of Defence and Chief of Staff. On 21 May 2010, Beslan Tsvishba was also appointed First Deputy Minister of Defence.[18] On 29 March 2011, Vladimir Vasilchenko succeeded Aslan Ankvab to become the new, permanent, Chief of Staff and First Deputy Minister of Defence.[19]

On 18 May 2015, retired Russian army general Anatoly Khrulyov was appointed Chief of the General Staff by President Raul Khajimba.[20]

List of Chiefs of the General Staff

# Name From Until President appointed under Comments
1 Sultan Sosnaliyev 11 October 1992 1993 Parliamentary republic
2 Sergei Dbar 21 May 1993 [21] June 1996 [21]
3 Vladimir Arshba June 1996 2004 Vladislav Ardzinba
4 Anatoli Zaitsev < May 2005 14 April 2010 [17] Sergei Bagapsh
Aslan Ankvab 2010 29 March 2011
5 Vladimir Vasilchenko 29 March 2011 [19] 2015?
6 Anatoly Khrulyov 18 May 2015 [20] Present Raul Khajimba

Military leadership

From # President # Minister for Defence # Chief of the General Staff
1992 Parliamentary republic 1 Vladimir Arshba 1 Sultan Sosnaliyev
2 Sultan Sosnaliyev 2 Sergei Dbar
1 Vladislav Ardzinba
3 Vladimir Mikanba 3 Vladimir Arshba
4 Raul Khajimba
5 Viacheslav Eshba
2 Sergei Bagapsh 6 Sultan Sosnaliyev 4 Anatoli Zaitsev
7 Mirab Kishmaria
Aslan Ankvab
3 Alexander Ankvab 5 Vladimir Vasilchenko
Valeri Bganba
4 Raul Khajimba
6 Anatoly Khrulyov


Structure of the Abkhazian Armed Forces.


According to the authorities of the Republic of Abkhazia, the Abkhazian Land Forces are organised along the Swiss model - in time of peace they have personnel of 3,000 to 5,000 and in case of war further 40-50,000[22] reservists are called out. They are authorised to keep registered weapons at home.

The Abkhazian Navy consists of three divisions that are based in Sukhumi, Ochamchire and Pitsunda. Four ships Project 1204 Shmel class PBR, 657 (ex-AK-599), 658 (ex-AK-582), and 328 (ex-AK-248) were transferred from the Russian Navy in the late 1990s. An additional ship ex-AK-527 was also transferred and cannibalized for spares. The three Abkhaz ships did not take part in the 2008 South Ossetia conflict, but their state was unclear. As of 2005 the first two of them had one PSKA Project 1400M Grif ("Zhuk") class PC speed-boats each. The navy also includes several civil vessels that were equipped with guns and unguided rocket artillery systems. NOVOSTI (Russian News & Information Agency) gives the following naval figures: over 20 motor boats armed with machine-guns and small-caliber cannons.

Air Force

Main article: Abkhazian Air Force

The Abkhazian Air Force uses Russian and Soviet-built aircraft. It is a small force, which numbers only 7 aircraft, 3-4 helicopters, and 250 personnel.


The exact numbers and types of equipment remain unverifiable as no thorough international monitoring has ever been carried out in Abkhazia. NOVOSTI (Russian News & Information Agency) gives the following army figures: 10,000-strong Abkhazian Self Defense Force wielding 60 tanks, including 40 T-72s, 85 artillery pieces and mortars, including several dozen with a 122-152-mm caliber and 116 armored vehicles of different types, also has numerous anti-tank weapons ranging from RPG-7 rocket launchers to Konkurs-M anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). Given the status of Abkhazia and recent armed conflict with Georgia a variety of equipment has been utilized by formations of the Abkhazian military, including inherited Soviet equipment, donated Russian weapons, impressed civilian gear, and items captured from the Georgians.

For aircraft, see Abkhazian Air Force

Combat vehicles

T-72 Soviet Union / Russia 9 Main battle tank
T-55 Soviet Union / Russia 53 Main battle tank
BMP-2 Soviet Union / Russia Infantry fighting vehicle
BMP-1 Soviet Union / Russia Infantry fighting vehicle Approximately 70-85 infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers are in service
BTR-70 Soviet Union / Russia Armored personnel carrier
BTR-60 Soviet Union / Russia Armored personnel carrier
BM-21 "Grad" Soviet Union / Russia 7 Multiple rocket launcher
9K37 Buk Soviet Union / Russia Surface-to-air missile system
ZSU-23-4 Soviet Union / Russia 6 Self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon


122 mm 2A18 Soviet Union / Russia Field artillery About 80 towed field artillery pieces are in service
85 mm D-44 Soviet Union / Russia Field artillery
120 mm mortar Soviet Union / Russia Mortar About 42 mortars are in service; exact types are unspecified
82 mm mortar Soviet Union / Russia Mortar
100 mm coastal defense gun KSM-65 Soviet Union Coastal artillery 2008 reactivate from storage; exact types and number are unspecified;[23]

Infantry weapons

RPG-18 Soviet Union / Russia Rocket launcher
RPG-7 Soviet Union / Russia Rocket launcher
PK Soviet Union / Russia Machine gun
RPK Soviet Union / Russia Light machine gun
AS Val Soviet Union / Russia Suppressed Assault rifle
AK-74 Soviet Union / Russia Assault rifle
AK-47, AKM Soviet Union / Russia Assault rifle Reserves only
Dragunov Soviet Union / Russia Sniper rifle
Makarov Soviet Union / Russia Pistol
F1 Soviet Union / Russia Hand grenade
RGD-5 Soviet Union / Russia Hand grenade

Russian Troops

Russia maintains a 3,500-strong force in Abkhazia with its headquarters in Gudauta, a former Soviet military base on the Black Sea coast north of the capital, Sukhumi, under a September 2009 agreement on military cooperation. The Gudauta base hosts Russia’s 131st Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade, equipped with at least 41 T-90 main battle tanks and 130 BTR-80 APCs.[24]


  1. Abkhazia's status is disputed. It considers itself to be an independent state, but this is recognised by only a few other countries. The Georgian government and most of the world's other states consider Abkhazia de jure a part of Georgia's territory. In Georgia's official subdivision it is an autonomous republic, whose government sits in exile in Tbilisi.


  1. В Абхазии отметили 17 годовщину образования Вооруженных Сил республики (in Russian). Администрация Президента Республики Абхазия. 2009-10-09. Retrieved 2009-10-11.
  3. Rusiant-Georgian War 1992–93
  4. Conflict in the Caucasus: Georgia, Abkhazia, and the Russian Shadow by S. A. Chervonnaia and Svetlana Mikhailovna Chervonnaia, pp 12–13
  5. Abkhazia Today. The International Crisis Group. Europe Report N°176 – 15 September 2006, page 23. Free registration needed to view full report
  6. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2014. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2014. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. "European Commission – PRESS RELEASES – Press release – European Union promotes Justice Reform and support to Internally Displaced People in Georgia". Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  9. Chervonnaia, Svetlana Mikhailovna. Conflict in the Caucasus: Georgia, Abkhazia and the Russian Shadow. Gothic Image Publications, 1994
  10. White Book of Abkhazia. 1992–1993 Documents, Materials, Evidences. Moscow, 1993.
  11. . The Guardian. 25 November 2014
  12. 1 2 3 Abkhazia Today. The International Crisis Group Europe Report N°176, 15 September 2006. Retrieved on May 27, 2007. Free registration needed to view full report
  13. Abkhaz Defense Minister: Our Officers are Trained in Russia. Civil Georgia, Tbilisi. March 25, 2005. Retrieved on May 27, 2007.
  14. Vladimir Socor Russia doubling its troops in Georgia's Abkhazia region, Eurasia Daily Monitor. Volume 5, Number 85. May 5, 2008.
  15., Министр обороны Абхазии ушел в отставку, (Abkhazian minister of defence resigns), 08.05.2007
  16. "Министр обороны". Кабинет Министров Республики Абхазия. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
  17. 1 2 "Министр обороны: "Увольнение ряда заместителей министра обороны произведено в связи с достижением ими предельного возраста пребывания на военной службе и на основании положения о порядке прохождения военной службы".". Apsnypress. 29 April 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  18. "Полковник Беслан Цвижба назначен первым заместителем министра обороны". Apsnypress. 21 May 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  19. 1 2 "Владимир Васильченко назначен первым заместителем министра обороны, начальником Генерального штаба Вооруженных сил Абхазии". Apsnypress. 29 March 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  20. 1 2 "Russian Gen. Appointed as Chief of Army of Breakaway Abkhazia". Civil Georgia. 18 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  21. 1 2 "Сегодня Сергею Дбару исполнилось бы 67 лет.". Apsnypress. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  22. 45,000 according to the Problems of the unrecognised states in the former USSR: South Caucasus by David Petrosyan; 40,000-50,000 according to the Caucasian-style militarism article of the Nezavisimaya Gazeta
  24. "Russian Troops in Abkhazia to Get Air-Conditioned APCs". RIA Novosti. 19 April 2013. Archived from the original on 20 April 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2016.


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