Putin and the de facto leader of South Ossetia, Leonid Tibilov, signed the “alliance and integration treaty” in the Kremli on March 18. Part of the treaty gives Russia responsibility for ensuring the defense and security of South Ossetia, including guarding its borders. After signing the treaty Putin in conversation with Tibilov mentioned that 1 billion rubles will be allocated in 2016 for the purpose of implementation of goals that are laid out in the treaty, and by the end of 2017 over 9 billion rubles will be allocated for social-economic development of South Ossetia.
Signing of the treaty comes four months after Moscow signed the agreement on “alliance and strategic partnership” with Georgia’s another breakaway region of Abkhazia. Moscow has pledged 9.2 billion rubles to Sokhumi. After revision of the initial draft of the treaty with Tskhinvali, the final text became more similar to the one that was signed with Sokhumi. It, however, contains clauses, which envisage much deeper integration of South Ossetia with Russia than the one signed with breakaway Abkhazia. According to the treaty with the term of 25 years, “separate units of the armed forces and security agencies of the South Ossetian Republic will become part of the armed forces and security agencies of the Russian Federation.”
Signing of the treaty coincided with the day when Russia marks one year since the annexation of Crimea.
Georgia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement sying that the pact amounted to the “actual annexation of the occupied Tskhinvali region” by Russia. The Georgian delegation raised this issue with the co-chairs and the representatives of the United States and called on to give a proper assessment to the illegal and provocative action of the Russian Federation. On the eve of the signature, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy as well as the U.S. Department of State made statements condemning the so-called “treaty” between the Russian Federation and the Tskhinvali occupation regime. EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini said on March 17 that the agreement “clearly violates Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington would not recognize the treaty.
17 – 18 March in Geneva on the regular meetings in the framework of international discussions on Transcaucasia, which was attended by representatives of the Republic of Abkhazia, Georgia, the Russian Federation, the United States and the Republic of South Ossetia and co-chaired the UN, OSCE and EU. The Russian delegation was headed by State Secretary – Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Grigory Karasin. Delegations of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have expressed concern about the plans for the further integration of Georgia into NATO, noting that the movement in this direction is a direct threat to the security of the two independent republics, and thus contrary to the basic provisions of the Geneva discussions agreements of August 2008. Of particular concern with the intention of causing the alliance to create infrastructure and conducting military exercises in Georgia. All participants noted the positive trend towards stabilization of the situation on the borders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia, which largely contributes to the systemic activity of the Russian border troops on the basis of bilateral intergovernmental agreements on the joint protection of borders. Attention was drawn to the representatives of Georgia on the inadmissibility of deliberate damage to the border of warning signs, as well as the need to resolve all related lines of the state border issues in the negotiations with the Abkhaz and South Ossetian sides. The parties agreed to continue to continue work on these issues in the fields of the Geneva discussions. The next round of the Geneva discussions on security and stability in Transcaucasia is scheduled for June 30 – July 1.
by Sally Bokhua