The Inguri River Option

Georgia would have a tough time retaking Abkhazia on its own for a couple of reasons. First, the widest part of the the disputed territory is at the current defacto border on the Inguri River. Any serious assault would have to get across the river into what is referred to as the Gali sector. Most of the bridges were destroyed for this reason during the fighting. There has been a number of rebuilding projects and lots of makeshift footbridges constructed, many by families skirting the Inguri River boundry. However, there are very few points of access for a mechanized or armored assualt en mass.

Even if Georgian forces were able to get across the river delta and penetrate the Gali sector in sufficient numbers, before the Abkhazian units could get their units into the fight, they would likely bog down again at the Gali Canal. The Gali Canal, a few miles north of the Inguri River is another line of choke points with scattered bridges and additional Abkhazian positions. These two waterways, the Ingury River and the Gali Canal would at least slow down, but likely stall any Georgian advance into Abkhazia via the south. Moreover, if Georgian units were to penetrate the Gali sector, they might be able to keep it, but advancing beyond the Gali Canal becomes more difficult because the terrain narrows and the distance between the seashore and the mountains create a geographic bottleneck that would further focus any potential line of advance. Abkhazian units would be able to concentrate their limited forces and trap the Georgians before they could advance as far as Ochamchira.

Ultimately if Georgian forces were willing to take the casualties, they could throw wave after wave of its troops across the Ingury River bridges, assuming the Abkhazians didn’t catch wind of Georgian forces massing on the Zugdidi side of the river border, and destroy the few operational bridges. However, they would have to do it all over again at the Gali Canal. It would likely be a very costy advance, one that few governments today are willing to accept.

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