Tension mounts between Georgia and Russia over self-proclaimed republics

Moscow wants to sign trade agreements with Akhazia and South Ossetia and open diplomatic relations with the de facto independent republics · Tbilisi has already responded by deploying troops at its borders with Abkhazia and is asking the international community to stop Russia “undermining Georgia’s sovereignty”.

In recent weeks the conflict between Georgia and the Russian Federation over the two self-proclaimed republics within Georgian territory, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, has entered a new phase that is making for tense diplomatic relations in the South Caucasus. Moscow’s strategy of weakening its rivals in the region by interfering in territorial conflicts is hardly new. However, recently Russia has gone a step further, announcing plans to sign trade agreements with both de facto independent republics and establish “legal links” with them. According to Russia’s Foreign Ministry, the measures are intended to “protect” the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, some of whom are of Russian origin.

The Georgian Government considers Russia’s latest move as an attack on its territorial integrity and has therefore demanded that Russia reverse these measures, asking the international community – and specifically NATO, the United Nations and the European Union – to put pressure on Russia to change its attitude.

Meanwhile, Russia Today reports that, as well as looking for a diplomatic solution, Georgia has begun moving troops towards the border with Abkhazia.

The Russian Federation has been particularly sympathetic towards the Georgian self-proclaimed republics since Kosovar independence, which the Kremlin thoroughly opposed. However, it is unlikely that Russia would support the secession of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia, among other reasons because the Russian state is engaged in a daily struggle in the nearby North Caucasus against the various republics that want independence from Russia, such as Chechnya and Ingushetia.

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