Thursday, February 18, 2010
Russian defense pact with Abkhazia upsets NATO
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has hit back at Moscow for signing a deal with Abkhazia for the construction of a military base in the Black Sea enclave.
The alliance swiftly urged the Kremlin to reverse what it called its “invalid” agreement, saying it violates restrictions on military forces set in a 2008 peace accord.
"The North Atlantic Council has condemned the decision by the Russian Federation to recognize the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and calls on it to revoke this decision," the alliance spokeswoman Carmen Romero said.
“[NATO] continues to call on Russia to respect its engagements under the (2008) ceasefire accord concluded under EU mediation," she added.
Abkhazia's leader Sergei Bagapsh signed the agreement with the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the Kremlin on Wednesday.
The pact will build on previous agreements that allow Russia to maintain troops and border guards in the region.
According to the Russian RIA-Novosti news agency, the agreement allows Russian forces "to defend the sovereignty and safety of the Republic jointly with the armed forces of Abkhazia."
The deal, which will be in force for 49 years, determines the legal status of Russian personnel and base property.
Tbilisi has condemned the pact as part of what it calls Moscow's strategy of occupation.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says the agreement will help Abkhazia develop as an independent state.
Moscow recognized the Republic of Abkhazia in August 2008 after crushing a military assault by Georgia's US-allied government on the other autonomous region of South Ossetia. Several other countries later followed suit.