Russia for ties with Abkhazia, South Ossetia | world | Hindustan Times
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Russia for ties with Abkhazia, South Ossetia

world Updated: Sep 09, 2008 19:24 IST

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced Tuesday that Russia was establishing diplomatic ties with the two breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

"We exchanged notes, which represent an agreement to establish diplomatic relations between Russia and Abkhazia and Russia and South Ossetia," Lavrov told a press conference.

The agreement came exactly two weeks after Russia became the first country to recognise the independence of the two regions, which are at the centre of the Russia-Georgia conflict.

That recognition drew fierce criticism from Western nations, which said the recognition violated Georgia's territorial integrity. Only Nicaragua has followed Russia's lead in recognising the regions.

Lavrov also committed Russia on Tuesday to providing military support to the two regions.

Russian tanks and troops surged into Georgia -- a strategic corridor for Caspian Sea oil and gas exports that aspires for NATO membership -- on August 8 to rebuff a Georgian offensive to retake South Ossetia.

Moscow argued that it repelled Georgian troops to protect thousands of people to whom it had granted Russian citizenship since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

Hundreds of people on both sides are estimated to have been killed in the conflict. Tens of thousands fled their homes.