The Kremlin has announced the breakaway Georgian territory of South Ossetia is to be incorporated into Russia in a deal condemned by the international community.
The move comes on the first anniversary of the annexation of Crimea and is being seen as evidence that Putin is undertaking a land grab from Russia’s neighbours. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, told The Times that the treaty “violates Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and blatantly contradicts the principles of international law”.
Although today’s move formally integrates South Ossetia into Russia, it has been under effective control of Moscow since 2008. The separatist war led US Republicans like John McCain to call for Georgia to be integrated into NATO, in order to prevent further Russian aggression.
The South Ossetia deal was signed shortly after Putin addressed a crowd of around 100,000 defending his actions in Crimea. In his speech he pledged to keep fighting Kiev as long as the Ukrainians maintained their claim over its eastern regions.
Another breakaway Georgian territory, Abkhazia, signed a deal with Moscow last year, but the arrangement with South Ossetia is much more significant.
Foreign policy analyst Daniel Hamilton told Breitbart London: “Putin’s latest land-grab comes as no surprise. Ever since the illegal annexation of Crimea last year, the Kremlin has done little to quell speculation that the north Georgia province of South Ossetia would be next.
“The west has tried dialogue with Putin – and it has failed. That is what led us today’s impasse. It is high time the US and EU provide practical military backup to our ‘at risk’ allies in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Defensive ground-troops and the provision of lethal weapons should not be ruled out. Actions speak louder than words – and action is the only thing Putin understands”.
It is unlikely the international community will take action over this deal, despite the outrage it has caused in Georgia.