The Defence Minister of the de facto Republic of South Ossetia, Ibragim Gasayev, has announced that South Ossetia’s armed forces will merge with their Russian counterparts, Russian online newspaper Gazeta.ru writes.
According to Gazeta.ru, Russia has been pushing for the move for some time, however, there was initially some resistance to the plan from South Ossetia. South Ossetian soldiers will now join the Russian army with the same ranks that they had hold in the South Ossetian army.
The merger is planned to go ahead in 2017.
Gasayev said that the agreement is ready and needs only to be signed before coming into force, after which, the South Ossetian army will officially become part of the Russian army. He also said that citizens of the republic will decide the activities of soldiers on the territory of South Ossetia.
According to an agreement signed between South Ossetia and Russia in 2015, Russia provides security for South Ossetia.
Gazeta.ru writes that the Defence Ministry was initially against the agreement, believing that it would leave the republic unprotected and that members of the armed forces wouldn’t retain their ranks.
Later in 2017, a referendum is planned in South Ossetia on whether or not to officially request annexation by the Russian Federation.