Russia signs defense agreements with breakaway Georgia regions

[JURIST] Russian president Dmitry Medvedev [official website] Wednesday signed [statement; press release] military defense agreements with Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia [JURIST news archive] despite heavy international criticism. Medvedev said that Russia now recognized the regions as independent countries since its conflict with Georgia [NYT report], and that his country planned to permanently station troops in the regions. In an attempt to preempt criticism of the agreement, Medvedev argued that the deals were of a nature sanctioned by the UN Charter [Chp. VII text]:

The key task now is to ensure Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s security. The agreements we have signed contain provisions enabling our countries to take the necessary joint measures to remove threats to peace and respond to acts aggression. We will provide each other will all necessary support, including military support. The treaties provide for this in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter proclaiming the right to individual or collective self-defence.

I want to take this opportunity here and now to stress that any repeat aggression by Georgia (and revanchist feelings are visible there, unfortunately, and the state is continuing its militarisation) would lead to a regional catastrophe. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that we will not allow another military adventure. There should be no illusions on this count. [sic]
Georgia's National Security Council secretary Alexander Lomaia criticized the agreements, saying that they were effectively an illegal attempt to annex the regions. Spokespersons for both NATO [JURIST report] and the US have also criticized the deal, and Russia is one of only two countries in the world to recognize the regions' independence. AFP has more. From Russia, Kommersant has local coverage.

The signing comes shortly after international court filings by both Georgia and Russia. Attorneys representing the Georgian Republic appeared [JURIST report] before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website; JURIST news archive] last week seeking emergency orders to stop the alleged killing and mass displacement of citizens in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Georgia argued that Russia is engaged in ethnic cleansing and is violating the 1965 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination [text] by removing ethnic Georgians from the territories. Russia countered that its military actions have saved lives. Last month Russia instituted its own action [JURIST report] against Georgia in the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website], alleging that Georgia committed war crimes against ethnic Russians in South Ossetia.


 

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