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Russia Says 'No Question' About Annexations Of Abkhazia, South Ossetia

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin (file photo)
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin (file photo)

Russia has rejected accusations that it is planning to annex Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

In an exclusive interview, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told RFE/RL's Current Time program on November 25: "There can be no question about any annexations."

"Abkhazia and South Ossetia have been our partners for six years," Karasin said. "We have recognized them as independent and sovereign states."

Georgia and the West have criticized a "strategic partnership" agreement between Russia and Abkhazia signed on November 24, with Georgian Foreign Minister Tamar Beruchashvili calling it a "step toward annexation."

The "Allied Relations and Strategic Partnership" treaty calls for the creation of a joint Russian-Abkhaz military force within a year, and for Russian funding to modernize Abkhazia's military.

The pact says an armed attack on Abkhazia would be considered an armed attack on Russia, and vice-versa.

The document also obliges Russia to press for more global recognition of Abkhazia's independence claim.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would also double its subsidies to Abkhazia to about $200 million next year.

Karasin said Russia will "continue sparing no effort, nerves, financial expenses" to make sure its neighbors "do not feel endangered."

"We will be helping in terms of economy and funds where needed," he added.

"As a large state and a powerful country, Russia is constantly responsible for stability on its borders and everything that is under way along its borders," Karasin said.

Abkhazia broke away from Georgia during a brutal war in the early 1990s, during which much of the region's ethnic Georgian population fled.

Moscow recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states in 2008, after Russia and Georgia fought a brief war.

Concerning the improvement of relations between Russian and Georgia, Karasin said: "Currently, we are undertaking practical steps to enable interaction in the areas where it is possible in the absence of diplomatic relations. This work is and will be ongoing."

"Everything depends upon Georgia here as it was the one who broke diplomatic ties with the Russian Federation and it is not up to us to talk about or initiate a re-establishment of diplomatic relations," he added.

The deal between Russian and Abkhazia came amid tensions between the West and Moscow over Ukraine, raising questions over Russia's future plans.

Some Georgian officials fear Putin may now sign a similar deal with South Ossetia, which already depends on Moscow for financial and political support.

Russian annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March.

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