The Russian government officially disclosed an agreement with the de facto Republic of South Ossetia on 13 March which will lead to some South Ossetian military units becoming the part of the Russian military.
According to Russian state-owned media, Russia Today, the document specifies that soldiers and officers of the South Ossetian units to be incorporated into the Russian military will have to resign from South Ossetian service, and will then be accepted as contract soldiers for work at the Russian military base in the republic.
Russia had been pushing for the move for some time, although there was initially some resistance from South Ossetia. For now, the current plan appears to be a compromise between Tskhinvali (Tskhinval) and Moscow.
The draft agreement was prepared by the Russian Defence Ministry in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other state agencies. The Russian government has forwarded the bill to President Vladimir Putin to sign. According to Russian news-agency, Ria Novosti, on 14 March, Putin approved the agreement and instructed the Ministry of Defence to sign the document.
South Ossetia is considered the sovereign territory of Georgia under Russian military occupation by Georgia and the international community; South Ossetia declared independence in 2008 following the August 2008 War, and is recognised by four countries including Russia.
The move has attracted criticism from Georgian authorities. Georgia’s Minister for Reconciliation ‘strongly condemned’ the decision in a statement on 14 March. ‘This decision is yet another extension of the de facto annexation process, which has been ongoing since 2008’, the statement read. According to the ministry, the Russian Federation and the South Ossetian authorities have signed dozens of agreements, which serve the ‘strengthening of complete and exclusive control over the occupied territories’.
The Georgian government called for ‘proper assessment’ of the decision by the international community and urged them to demand that Russia fulfil her International obligations.