Political geography is a fuzzy subject. We grew up with images of a square-ish Kashmir, and now keep getting confused by maps in a western world where our crowning state looks lopped off.
Similarly, there’s the case of Abkhazia in Georgia. It was originally a part of the USSR (the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, for those of you born after 1989) before it crumbled. Closeby-ally Russia and distant Nicaragua are the only two nations in the world who recognise the Republic of Abkhazia, which came into existence in 1991 during the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. Georgia though, still asserts its rights over this holiday spot that was favoured by Stalin and Russian high-fliers, though it has designated it as an autonomous republic.
After the 2008 uprising in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, supported by Russia, Vladimir Putin’s recent visit has stirred up the entire region. He’s promised to spend $500 million on reinforcing Russian military bases in this ‘independent’ territory. “Abkhazia doesn’t need to be recognised by anyone but Russia,” he said.
Georgia retaliated, saying Putin’s visit demonstrated that “Russia continues to defy the internationally recognised norms and principles of international law, its own international commitments and reputation as well as the norms of civilised conduct.”
Meanwhile, we’re still wondering which shade to use when colouring Abkhazia on the map.