Russian officials have announced negotiations are beginning on a deal with the Republic of South Ossetia, wherein the tiny republic’s military will be formally incorporated into the Russian military’s command structure. This will see a number of members of the South Ossetian military transferring to the Russian military directly.
South Ossetia has a population of only around 50,000 people, and its independence is only recognized by a handful of nations, Russia being among them. The area originally seceded from Georgia in 1991, and formally gained recognition from Russia, and a few other nations in 2008, when Georgia attacked the area, starting a brief Russo-Georgian War, which Russia decisively won.
Russia has military forces in South Ossetia, nominally as peacekeepers but mostly as guarantors that Georgia won’t attempt to retake the area militarily. Under the deal, it is expected that South Ossetian soldiers serving at the Russian base in the area would be allowed to join the Russian military outright, which allows South Ossetia to reduce it’s own military’s size.
Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze was quick to condemn the move, insisting that any agreement between the Russian Federation and the de facto government of South Ossetia was necessarily invalid, because Georgia does not recognize South Ossetia’s independence. They added that the integration with Russia’s military would impede negotiations on resolving the territorial dispute.
In practice there are no negotiations to begin with, and probably never will be, with South Ossetia considering itself autonomous from Georgia since the waning years of the Soviet era, and has long been more economically tied to North Ossetia, which is part of Russia, meaning the only real ties with Georgia are on paper.
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