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Russia To Defend Abkhazia, South Ossetia Borders

Dmitry Medvedev
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- President Dmitry Medvedev has given the go-ahead to agreements with Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which would formally put them under Moscow's military umbrella.

Russia last year unilaterally recognized the independence of the breakaway Georgian territories after repelling a Georgian attack on South Ossetia in a five-day war. Georgia claims sovereignty of both regions, which originally broke away in the early 1990s.

Despite Western protests, Russia has pledged to deploy military bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia and help guard their borders with Georgia to protect them against new takeover attempts by Tbilisi.

Georgia, backed by the West, believes such treaties, which are yet to be signed, are an infringement of its territorial integrity.

"President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the signing of agreements with Abkhazia and South Ossetia on joint efforts to protect the borders of these republics," presidential spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia are almost entirely dependent on Russia for financial, military, and diplomatic support.