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Georgia; Russian Federation: Separatist Regions of Georgia Conclude Military Agreements with Russia

(June 10, 2010) On May 5, 2010, the parliament of South Ossetia, a disputed region within Georgia that declared its independence from Georgia in 1990, ratified the Treaty on Military Cooperation with Russia, which was signed in Moscow on April 7, 2010. (Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia on the Treaty on the Creation of a Joint Military Base Signed Between Russia and the So-Called ”Republic of South Ossetia,” Apr. 7, 2010, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia website, available at
.) The Treaty is identical to that signed between the Russian Federation and Abkhazia, another separatist Georgian territory, on February 17, 2010. (Russia, Abkhazia Signed Agreement on Joint Russian Military Base on Abkhaz Territory, Feb. 17, 2010, President of the Republic of Abkhazia website, available at

Both treaties granted Russia the right to “build, use, and improve military infrastructure and military bases” on the territories of these self-declared independent states and to create joint military units with the two regions in times of peace or war. Based on these treaties, agreements on joint efforts to protect the borders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which allowed Russian troops to take control over the borders of the two regions, and agreements on joint military bases were signed by the Defense Ministers of Russia and these “states.” The texts of these agreements are not available at this time; however, according to news reports, the agreements establish requirements for the functioning of military bases, the terms of land and other property use, and the status of Russian military personnel and their families. These agreements are to be in force for 49 years, with the possibility of a 15-year extension. (South Ossetia Ratified an Agreement on Military Base with Russia [in Russian], KOMMERSANT ONLINE NEWS REPORT, May 5, 2010, available at http

The Georgian government protested the conclusion of these agreements and the creation of foreign military bases on its own territory, because it considers South Ossetia and Abkhazia as territories occupied by a foreign state. (See Law on Occupied Territories of Georgia of Oct. 23, 2008, Venice Commission website, available at

A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia called the creation of these bases Russia’s “reinforcement of its military presence on the occupied territory of Georgia” and an attempt to place the annexation of the Georgian regions “within ‘legitimate’ frames.” (Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia on the Treaty on the Creation of a Joint Military Base in Gudauta Signed Between Russia and the So-Called ”Republic of Abkhazia,” Feb. 18, 2010, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia website, available at

On June 8, 2010, during the ongoing negotiations in Geneva on security in the Transcaucasus, the Russian delegation proposed conclusion of a document that would guarantee Georgia’s refusal of use of force in relations with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In response, Giga Bokeria, Deputy Foreign Minister of Georgia, said that Georgia will never sign such agreements with its own occupied territories. He stated that Georgia might sign such an agreement with Russia if a requirement to remove Russian troops from the territory of these republics were included. (Geneva Negotiations Between Georgia, Russia, and Unrecognized Republics Ended with Mutual Accusations, NEWSRU.COM INFORMATION AGENCY, June 9, 2010, available at http