The “president” of South Ossetia, a breakaway province of Georgia, recently met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and thanked him for changing the area for the “better” through Moscow’s “full-scale assistance.”
According to the Kremlin, the leaders of South Ossetia and Russia discussed the upcoming presidential polls and “the issues of security, defense capacity building” in the breakaway region, which claims to be an independent country.
“Hundreds of square meters of new buildings, new roads and social facilities [were built] in our republic. These are all tangible results. Of course, we owe all of that to great Russia,” the breakaway region’s leader Leonid Tibilov told Putin prior to their meeting Tuesday, reports Civil Georgia.
Tibilov expressed his appreciation for Russia’s support, thanking Putin for Russia’s “full-scale assistance” to South Ossetia.
As a result, South Ossetia had changed “for better” from the “appalling state of affairs” five years ago when he took office, argued the region’s chief.
“Mr. President, I would like to express my gratitude to you personally for the trust that has been expressed [towards me] over the years,” declared Tibilov. “And today, I can confidently say that all the assistance that went to South Ossetia always found its target. This, I believe, is very important, and I always considered this to be the priority in my work.”
The meeting comes about a week after Putin endorsed an agreement that will ultimately merge the South Ossetia military with Russian armed forces, a move that the country of Georgia has condemned as Moscow’s ploy to consume the entire province.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, South Ossetia, backed by Russia, fought a war to secede from Georgia.
Russia launched airstrikes against the Georgian government in South Ossetia in 2008 following separatists attacks against the Georgian military.
Unlike the United States and the European Union, Russia is among the few countries that recognize South Ossetia as an independent state.
The South Ossetia leader Tibilov met with President Putin in Moscow on Tuesday.
“Russia and South Ossetia have built truly allied relations,” Putin told the head of South Ossetia prior to their rendezvous, notes Civil Georgia. “We are building our relations on the basis of our basic Treaty [the treaty on “the Alliance and Integration”], we have also signed the agreements in various areas and on the whole, all of them are being implemented.”
“Of course, in a large-scale effort as such, there are issues that require special attention from our side,” added the Russian president, noting that Moscow is “generally pleased” that the situation in South Ossetia is improving.
“In fact, we can say that it has already stabilized,” he also said, adding, “By the way, I wish you good luck. I hope the voting will proceed in accordance with the constitution, in strict compliance with the laws of South Ossetia, and will ultimately lead to a new, favorable environment for [further] development.”
Besides the presidential election, South Ossetia’s capital Tskhinvali is expected to host a referendum on renaming the region to “the South Ossetia – the State of Alania.”
The U.S. has denounced the referendum.
“Russia’s critics say the war in South Ossetia was a dress rehearsal by Russia for its annexation in 2014 of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula, and its support for separatist fighters in the eastern Ukrainian Donbass region,” Reuters noted this month.