Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 02 October 2012

Abkhazia is a breakaway region of Georgia and is only recognized by Nauru, Nicaragua, Russia, and Venezuela.[1] After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the 1992–1993 conflict between Abkhazia and Georgia was characterized by significant use of mines by both sides. A cease-fire agreement was reached in May 1994.

Due to its status, Abkhazia cannot accede to the Mine Ban Treaty. It has not taken any unilateral steps to ban antipersonnel mines. Officials have expressed sympathy with humanitarian concerns surrounding mines, but made it clear that they consider antipersonnel mines militarily essential. In August 2009, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Abkhazia, Maxim Gunjia, told the Monitor, “Our general policy towards landmines is still viewed through [the] perspective of our relations with Georgia. We still consider [that there is a] threat from their territory.”[2] A Ministry of Foreign Affairs official previously told the Monitor that Abkhazia could prohibit antipersonnel mines only after Georgia acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty and signed a peace treaty with Abkhazia.[3]

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

Abkhazian forces were last confirmed to have used antipersonnel mines in 2002.[4] There were unconfirmed allegations of use of mines by both Abkhazian and Georgian forces in 2008.[5] The Monitor is not aware of any allegations since that time.

Abkhazia is not known to have ever produced or exported antipersonnel mines, but its military forces maintain a stockpile.[6] Abkhazia has not revealed the size and composition of its stockpile. Russian units stationed in Abkhazia may also stockpile antipersonnel mines.

[1] The Republic of Abkhazia is a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization.

[2] Email from Maxim Gunjia, Deputy Foreign Minister of Abkhazia, 24 August 2009.

[4] The Abkhazian Minister of Defense told the Monitor that Abkhazia used antipersonnel mines in the upper Kodor Valley in 2002. See, Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1,180. Abkhazia maintains specialized units to lay minefields on order. See, Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 933.

[5] See, Landmine Monitor Report 2009, pp. 1,158–1,159.

[6] Interview with Col. Garry Kupalba, Deputy Minister of Defense, Sukhum, 12 April 2007.