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Russia expands its cooperation with the Tskhinvali region by signing a military agreement

By Khatia Kardava
Tuesday, January 30
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin submitted to the State Duma for ratification an agreement between Russia and South Ossetia - breakaway region of Georgia, on the order of joining the army units of the republic in the Armed Forces of Russia.

The aim of the agreement, which was signed in Moscow on March 31, 2017 and ratified by the Russian State Duma three days ago - on January 25, is the regulation of the military service issues of the inhabitants of the Tskhinvali region in the Russian military base stationed in the Tskhinvali region by the Russian armed forces.

As explained by the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the agreement will have an impact on further strengthening security in the region and will completely exclude the recurrence of events with the resumption of hostilities in South Ossetia in August 2008.

Moscow's decision by Russian mass media, based on Russian experts, is assessed as an important political step. In Tbilisi it is seen as a step taken by Russia to annex Georgian territory.

Viktor Baranets, the military columnist of "Komsomolskaya Pravda", states that for "Moscow this is, first of all, a political step that will deepen relations between Russia and South Ossetia, and it will certainly strengthen Russia’s military" fist " in the region.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia condemned the ratification of the agreement and stated that it is an "illegal action against the actual annexation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions by the Russian Federation, which completely ignores the fundamental norms and principles of international law".

Foreign Minister Mikhail Janelidze said, any of the so-called agreements/treaties signed by the Russian Federation with the occupied territories - is completely illegitimate and does not change anything legally, but the international community always pays attention to Russia's actions against conflict resolution. "We are sure that the international community will make an appropriate assessment of all the actions and every move. Most importantly, the Russian Federation has to fulfill its obligations under the 2008 ceasefire agreement, withdraw its military forces from Georgian territory and create all conditions for a possible peaceful resolution of the conflict".

The so-called agreement is part of a treaty on "Alliance and Integration", which aimes the alliance and integration of separate units of the armed forces of the South Ossetia into the armed forces of Russian Federation, which Moscow signed with the occupied Tskhinvali region on March 18, 2015.

The United States condemned the Russian Federation’s ratification of an agreement with the de facto leaders in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia regarding a joint military force.

The statement published on the official web site of the US state Department on January 26, reads as follows:

" We do not recognize the legitimacy of this so-called “treaty,” which does not constitute a valid international agreement.

The United States’ position on Abkhazia and South Ossetia is unwavering: The United States fully supports Georgia’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

The United States views ratification of this agreement as inconsistent with the principles underlying the Geneva International Discussions, to which Russia is a participant. The United States urges Russia to withdraw its forces to pre-war positions per the 2008 ceasefire agreement and reverse its recognition of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia."

The so-called treaty ("Alliance and Strategic Partnership") has been signed with the occupied Abkhazia as well. On the basis of the Abkhaz case, the process of concluding a military agreement has begun earlier, (signed in November, 2014) and the Russian Duma ratified it in 2016. This fact has repeatedly condemned by the international community.