Apr 05, 2008

Abkhazia: Russia Supports Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Putin says Russia will provide all necessary support and assistance to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, who are now seeking international recognition of their independence along with Transdniestria. 

Below is an article written by Jason Cooper and published by Tiraspol Times:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia will provide all necessary support and assistance to the republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two unrecognized countries whose territory is claimed by the Republic of Georgia.

In the midst of a heavy military build-up, Georgia is seeking to regain control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which proclaimed independence after the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Georgia, which lost control of Abkhazia more than fifteen years ago, accuses Moscow of interfering in its internal affairs.

"The Russian president stressed that Russia is not unsympathetic to the aspirations and problems of the two republics, where many Russian nationals live," Russia’s foreign ministry quoted the president as saying in a formal statement which was released Thursday [3 April 2008].

It is not the first time that an official Russian ministry applies the use of words like "republics" rather than the more neutral "regions" or "territories" in a formal statement. According to international law, Abkhazia and South Ossetia - just like Transdniestria - are already sovereign states since they currently meet the requirements for statehood: A permanent population, a defined territory and a government. International recognition is specifically not a requirement.

The official statement came after the presidents of the two unrecognized countries contacted Putin with their concerns over the "aggressive approach of the Georgian authorities handling the situation in the conflict zones, including the build-up of weapons and troops close to the borders of the republics”.

The Russian president said that Georgia’s attempts to resolve the situation by applying pressure on Abkhazia and South Ossetia are senseless.

"Any attempts to apply political, economic or military pressure on Abkhazia and South Ossetia are futile and counterproductive," the ministry quoted Vladimir Putin as saying.

Sergei Bagapsh, the president of Abkhazia, said in an interview with news agency RIA Novosti that Putin’s statement would "guarantee security for our republics.

"Peacekeeping on Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's borders with Georgia is carried out by peacekeeping forces from the 11 member state CIS (Common Wealth of Independent States), with the oversight of the United Nations and the OSCE. The 56 member state OSCE also participates as a monitor of the peacekeeping operation on the border between Moldova and Transdniestria.

Two weeks ago [March 2008] the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, proposed that the president and the government consider the issue of whether to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

These new and emerging countries have stepped up their drive for independence after Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence on 17 February [2008]. Partially recognized, Kosovo is now considered a sovereign state by almost 40 of the world's approximately 200 countries.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia, along with Transdniestria (Pridnestrovie, per its official name), have since asked Russia’s parliament, the United Nations and other international organizations to recognize their independence. Russia, while saying it is "not unsympathetic," has not yet offered formal diplomatic recognition.