The commander of Russia's ground forces, Gen. Vladimir Boldyrev, confirmed on March 20 that Russia is setting up military bases in the separatist territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Boldyrev indicated that the so-called 4th and 7th military bases, situated in South Ossetia and Abkhazia respectively, would be ready to host tactical exercises by the end of 2009, the Itar-Tass news agency reported March 20.
Abkhazia's de facto defense chief Murab Kishmaria on March 20 announced that joint military exercises could take place by the end of the year, involving Russian troops, along with member of the Abkhaz and South Ossetian defense forces. The holding of such exercises would depend on the signing of relevant security agreements with the separatist entities.
Eduard Kokoiti, the South Ossetia leader, indicated that his separatist territory was prepared to give Russia a 99-year lease for its base. Abkhaz officials said the lease covering the Russian base there would have a term of 49 years, according to a report distributed by the Dni.ru news website.