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Russia ratifies illegal agreements with its puppets

By Mzia Kupunia
Monday, March 29
The ratification of the agreements on the Joint Defence of the Borders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by the Russian State Duma is yet another “provocative step” from Moscow, the Georgian Foreign Ministry has said. In a statement released on Friday it accused Russia of “rude violation” of fundamental principles of international legislation.

On March 26 the Russian State Duma ratified agreements signed by President Dmitry Medvedev on the Joint Defence of Borders with Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Medvedev and the de facto leaders Eduard Kokoity and Sergey Baghapsh signed these on April 30, 2009. In these agreements both the de facto Republics give Russia the right to defend their “state borders”. The document signed with Sokhumi also envisages Russian control of the sea “border.” Sokhumi and Tskhinvali will provide the Russian Federal Security Service Border Department with buildings and other equipment, air space and landing places for helicopters. They will also provide the Russian Border Department with communication channels.

The Russian side will in return help the de facto Abkhazian and South Ossetian Republics to prepare border police staff in order to establish the so-called “National Border Services” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The agreements, which will be in force for the next 5 years, also give Russia the right to freely use the air and sea zones of the two breakaway regions. The agreements will be automatically extended for five more years every five years unless one of the sides concerned notifies the other in written form that it does not wish to prolong the agreement.

Tbilisi assessed the signing and ratification of the documents as a demonstration that Russia is continuing to ignore the 6-point agreement and attempting to legitimise its forceable alteration of internationally recognised state borders. “This is yet another demonstration of the policy of the annexation of the occupied territories,” the Georgian Foreign Ministry statement reads. “In terms of international legislation, any agreement reached between an occupying state and its puppet regimes has no judicial force and is annulled,” the statement continues. The Foreign Ministry has called on the international community to make more active efforts to stop the “occupation and annexation” of Georgia’s territories.

No matter what kind of documents the Russian Duma adopts in relation to Abkhazia and South Ossetia none of them will have legal power, Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said. “Russia is trying to turn Abkhazia and South Ossetia into a military polygon. This so-called agreement has no force and will be thrown into the dustbin of history,” the Minister stated.

Moscow is trying to create a “parallel world”, MP from the ruling National Movement Davit Darchiashvili said. “There will come a time when all these documents will just be curiosities for historians and nothing else,” the MP noted.

The statements of Georgian politicians and diplomats are merely “weak protests” against Russia’s actions, analyst in conflict issues Malkhaz Chemia has said. By ratifying the documents with the de facto republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia The Kremlin is challenging the EU and the United States, the analyst noted.

“Russia has violated the Istanbul agreement of 1998, envisaging the withdrawal of Russian military bases from the conflict zones. Instead, Moscow is setting up more bases on Georgia’s occupied territories,” Chemia told The Messenger, adding that this is part of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s plan to restore the “old power” of Russia. “Moscow is trying to create reliable buffer zones for the country,” the analyst noted. A firmer position by the international community, in particular the European Union and the United States, is needed to challenge Russia’s plans, Chemia said.