Russian gov't OKs deal on military base in S. Ossetia

13:00, March 13, 2010      

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The Russian government announced Friday that it has approved a draft agreement with Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia on a joint military base there.

The order sanctioned by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on March 9 now awaits signature of President Dmitry Medvedev, according to a posting on the government website.

A similar agreement was signed between Russia and another Georgian breakaway republic of Abkhazia in the Kremlin on Feb. 17 during a visit of the regional leader Sergei Bagapsh, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

The agreement, valid for a 49-year term and subject to automatic prolongation of 15 years, allows Russia's Armed Forces to use the military base "together with the Abkhaz Armed Forces to protect the sovereignty and security of the republic, including against international terrorist groups."

Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war in 2008 when Georgia tried to retake South Ossetia, which broke away with Abkhazia from its rule during a war in the 1990s that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In response, Moscow sent in troops to drive Georgian forces out of the region and recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states two weeks after the conflict ended. So far, only Nicaragua and Venezuela have followed Russia's suit.

Source: Xinhua
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