Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a wide-ranging treaty with the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia, which critics say paves the way for Moscow to annex the territory.
The “Treaty on Alliance and Integration” determines the long-term relations between Russia and South Ossetia, Putin said after signing the document in the Kremlin with Leonid Tibilov, the region’s president.
Putin added that South Ossetia will receive 9 billion roubles ($A191 million) in Russian aid over three years, in addition to 43 billion roubles given over the past 6 years.
The United States immediately announced it does not recognise the legitimacy of the treaty.
South Ossetia, a tiny mountainous region with barely 50,000 inhabitants, declared independence from Georgia in 1990. Russia recognised it as an independent country in 2008, after Georgian government forces attempted to retake it from separatists.
The treaty creates a single defence and security zone between Russia and South Ossetia, effectively handing over the Georgian region’s defences and border control to Moscow.
Full article: Concerns Russia moving to annex South Ossetia as treaty signed with Georgia breakaway region (The Age)