Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ratified agreements on Thursday concluded last year with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, under which Moscow will set up military bases in the breakaway republics.
The treaties allow Russia to operate military bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia for an initial term of 49 years, with possible extensions for an additional 15 years.
The parliament’s lower house, the State Duma, ratified the agreement on September 22 and the upper house followed suit on September 28. Georgia’s Foreign Ministry has condemned the move as an illegal and irresponsible legitimization of the Russian military presence in the separatist regions.
The Russian President also posthumously awarded late Abkhaz leader Sergei Bagapsh the Order of Courage for his efforts to “stabilize the situation in South Caucasus.”
Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008, following a five-day war with Georgia. The war began when Georgia attacked South Ossetia, where most residents are Russian passport holders. Russia’s decision has been condemned by many nations. Georgia considers the two regions part of its sovereign territory.
Besides Russia, the republics’ independence has also been recognized by Nicaragua and Venezuela, as well as the tiny Pacific nations of Nauru, Vanuatu and Tuvalu.
Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Russia’s readiness to act as a guarantor of non-use of force agreements between Georgia and its breakaway republics. Speaking during the 66th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, he said Russia was “determined to do everything possible” to avert another war in the Caucasus similar to the one that occurred in August 2008.
Russia earlier presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council calling for an agreement on the non-use of force between Georgia and Abkhazia. The initiative was blocked by Western nations seeking a comprehensive peace deal that stipulated the return of Georgian refugees to Abkhazia.