(Civil.Ge) — Major General Vasily Lunev, a career Russian military officer, has been appointed as chief of the general staff of the armed forces of Abkhazia, replacing General Anatoly Khrulev, who held the post from May 2015.
The announcement was made on August 2, following Lunev’s meeting with Abkhaz leader Raul Khajimba.
“I hope you will manage to adjust to the team smoothly, to join the work of the Defense Ministry in ensuring security and strengthening cooperation with the Russian military units stationed here,” Khajimba told Lunev. “We will continue advancing our strategic, defense cooperation [with Russia],” he added.
Russian staffing of military and security posts has been a common practice in Tskhinvali and Sokhumi. The head of the general staff of Tskhinvali, Victor Fyodorov, is a Russian-appointee as well.
Lunev, on his part, stressed his major task would be to secure peace “in difficult times that we have to work in.”
“At a meeting with defense minister [Merab Kishmaria] today we discussed the exercises that are taking place in the neighboring territory, and of course this show of force requires corresponding actions,” the Russian General said, apparently referring to the ongoing U.S.-led Noble Partner exercise.
Major General Vasily Lunev (born 1956, Chelyabinsk), a career military officer with no ties to Georgia and its occupied regions, served as the defense minister of South Ossetia in 2008, during the Russo-Georgian war. According to Russian media, Lunev took over the command of the invading Russian army after General Anatoly Khrulev, the 58th Army commander at that time, was wounded by the Georgian artillery fire.