Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (L) and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attend a meeting in Russia's Defence Ministry headquarters in Moscow, in this Aug. 11, 2008 file photo. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
MOSCOW, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Dmitry
Medvedev on Tuesday signed decrees recognizing the independence of South Ossetia
and Abkhazia, the two breakaway regions of neighboring Georgia.
The move is in keeping with fundamental international
laws and shows Russian support to the expression of "free will" by the Ossetian
and Abkhazian peoples, Medvedev said in a televised address, according to
Itar-Tass news agency.
"I have signed decrees on the recognition of the
independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia by the Russian Federation...That
wasnot an easy choice to make, but it is the sole chance of saving people's
lives," he said.
The recent attack by Georgian forces on South Ossetia
has killed all hopes for the peaceful coexistence of Ossetians, Abkhazians and
Georgians in one state, Medvedev said, adding that the time has come for the
peoples of the two regions to decide their own fate.
Medvedev called on other countries to follow Russia's
example to recognize the independence of the two regions.
In addition, he has ordered the Russian Foreign
Ministry to establish diplomatic relations with South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the
He instructed the ministry to hold talks with
Abkhazia and South Ossetia on drafting a treaty of friendship, cooperation and
The president also ordered the Defense Ministry to
ensure security in the separatist provinces as requested by their leaders, the
Soon after Medvedev's declaration, the respective
leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Sergei Bagapsh and Eduard Kokoity,
thanked Russia for recognizing their regions' independence.
"This is an historic day for our people. I'm grateful
to the Russian leadership and to the Russian people for this great step which
was taken today to recognize Abkhazia's independence," the Interfax news agency
quoted Bagapsh as saying.
Kokoity made a similar statement, saying that:
"Russia has saved us from genocide and has granted us the opportunity to develop
and live on our own land."
Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's envoy to the NATO, said
recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is a response to
those who accused Russia of planning to annex the two regions.
"The president's decision is a response to those
political structures that said that Russia needs new land, that Russia is an
occupier, that Russia is going to annex Abkhazia and South Ossetia," Rogozin
told a press conference in Moscow.
Russian TV showed images of people with flags
celebrating in the streets of the Abkhazian capital of Sukhumi. Itar-Tass news
agency said shops in South Ossetia were short of fireworks supplies as many
rushed to buy them.
Meanwhile, Georgia slammed the Russian decision,
saying it was a challenge not only to Georgia but to the international community
as it violated the UN Charter, Georgian news agency Caucasus Press reported.
Georgian Minister for Reintegration Temur
Iakobashvili said the move will "leave Russia isolated" internationally.
Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke from central
Georgian rule during wars in the early 1990s following the collapse of the
former Soviet Union, but their self-proclaimed independence is not recognized
Earlier this month, Georgia sent in troops to reclaim
South Ossetia and Russia responded with a military offensive, driving Georgian
forces out of the region and taking over parts of Georgian territory.
Russia declared a halt to its military offensive on
Aug. 12 after days of conflict in the region. Later, Moscow said it had
fulfilled the promise made in a French-brokered peace plan to withdraw its
troops from Georgia as of last Friday.
Saakashvili criticizes Russian
parliament's backing for breakaway regions
TBILISI, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- Russian lawmakers' call for
their country's recognition of the independence of Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia
and South Ossetia regions is a "serious mistake", Georgian President Mikhail
Saakashvili said Monday.
The decision will lead to "serious consequences" and will
not benefit Russia, said Saakashvili, according to Georgian news agency Caucasus
South Ossetia conflict casts shadow
over Russia-West ties
MOSCOW, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- The conflict that erupted overnight on Aug. 8 in
Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia, not only caused great damage to
ties between Russia and Georgia, but also cast a shadow over Russia's relations
with the West.
With some western nations criticizing Russia for failing
to live up to its ceasefire agreement with Georgia, analysts remain skeptical
about whether the lingering Russia-West rift would heal anytime soon.
Commander says exercises have no
connection with Georgia
BUCHAREST, Aug. 25
(Xinhua) -- The military exercises scheduled for the time being in the Black Sea
have no connection with the conflict in Georgia, stressed Juan Rodriguez,
Commander of the Standing NATO Maritime Group SNMG1) in Romania's Constanta on
At a press conference aboard the Juan de Borbon frigate,
part of the SNMG1 fleet, Rodriguez said the tactical exercises at sea will be
carried out in accordance with a set schedule, and the aim of the operations is
to promote interoperability among the navies of the NATO member
Medvedev warns of termination of ties
MOSCOW, Aug. 25
(Xinhua) -- President Dmitry Medvedev has warned that Russia could sever all
ties with NATO if necessary, Russian news agencies reported Monday.
"Cooperation is in the interests of NATO, not Russia,"
Medvedev said in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi during a meeting on Monday
with Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's envoy to the alliance.
Polish PM says Russia stiffening
stance over Georgia tests EU
WARSAW, Aug. 25
(Xinhua) -- Russia is stiffening its stand over Georgia and it will test the
EU's eastern policy, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Monday.
Commenting Monday's resolution by Russia's parliament
calling on President Dimitri Medvedev to recognize Georgia's renegade provinces
Abkhasia and Southern Osetia as independent states, Tusk said the Georgian
crisis will be a test for the EU's eastern policy.
Merkel concerned about Russian
STOCKHOLM, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said here on
Monday she was very concerned about a appeal by Russia's parliament to urge
President Dmitry Medvedev to recognize the independence of two breakaway
The State Duma or lower house of the Russian parliament
has approved Monday an appeal to President Dmitry Medvedev to recognize the
independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the two breakaway regions of
neighboring Georgia. Earlier in the day, the Federation Council, or upper house
of parliament, voted unanimously in favor of a similar appeal.
Georgian parliament extends military
regime in country
Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Georgian parliament decided on Saturday to extend the
military regime in the country while Russia said it would maintain peacekeeping
observation posts around South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two breakaway regions of
The parliament unanimously endorsed President Mikhail
Saakashvili's proposal to extend the military regime in Georgia, which was
originally declared for 15 days, until Sept. 8.