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Putin’s meeting with South Ossetia ‘leader’ is illegitimate

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, May 5
The Ambassador of the United States (US) to Georgia, Ian Kelly, has assessed the meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the so-called President of Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia as ‘illegitimate.’

Kelly says that the US does not recognize the independent status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

“These regions are inseparable parts of Georgia and will always remain so, so this meeting is not legitimate. We support Georgia’s attempts to reintegrate these regions,” Kelly stressed.

However, the ambassador added that the US supports pragmatic dialogue with Russia in Geneva and the Karasin-Abashidze format.

“I think we should look at this issue with a long-term perspective,” he added.

Putin met the newly-elected president of South Ossetia, Anatoly Bibilov, in Sochi on May 3 and congratulated him on winning the ‘elections’.

“I know that you are an advocate of development of full-fledged relations with Russia," Putin told Bibilov.

The Russian President also promised his assistance in the restoration of infrastructure in the breakaway region.

“We are now implementing an agreement on a strategic partnership and I hope that under the leadership of Bibilov, South Ossetia will do its best to fulfill the treaty,” Putin said.

For his part, Bibilov underlined that relations of the alliance and integration ties with Russia are of key importance for ensuring the security and socio-economic development of South Ossetia.

“The republic will strictly follow the agreements with Russia, which have been worked out over all the years of cooperation,” he said.

Tbilisi condemned the meeting of Putin and Bibilov, saying this step is targeted against the statehood of Georgia.

Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Zalkaliani says Russia “rejects all international norms” with such actions.

“This is a continuation of the illegal, destructive policy that Russia is implementing in Georgia's occupied territories. The international community condemns such steps,” Zalkaliani said.

Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia after the 2008 August war.

Besides Russia, only three countries - Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru - recognize the independent status of these regions.