That’s what the Financial Times is reporting following Russia’s announcement that Moscow would establish official links with the separatists regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. I may be wrong, but I think this would be the first formal annexation since Saddam Hussein made Kuwait part of Iraq in 1990, getting the ball rolling on a series of events which continue to roil international relations. Some clever jabs about Kosovo should be forthcoming from Moscow any minute now… excerpt after the cut.
David Bakradze, Georgian foreign minister, condemned the move as a breach of international law and an “attempt to legalise the de facto annexation process taking place in Abkhazia”.“We will respond using all diplomatic, legal and political tools,” Mr Bakradze told the Financial Times after an emergency meeting of the Georgian security council. “We will ask for a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council.”Moscow’s foreign ministry insisted the Russian move was a peaceful step aimed at lifting restrictions hindering social and economic development in the whole Caucasus region. Russia was “not choosing [the path of] confrontation with Georgia”, it added.Vladimir Putin, Russian president, earlier signed a decree instructing the government to co-operate with the “de facto” authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in economic, trade and other areas, and to recognise some documents issued by them. It said the foreign ministry should look at providing consular services to the regions’ residents.Although Russian-Georgian relations had recently improved with the partial lifting of a Russian transport blockade on its southern neighbour, Moscow’s move left the two countries again on a potentially dangerous collision course.Abkhazia and South Ossetia are home to ethnic minorities where separatist movements sprang up in the early 1990s, leading to bloody wars with Georgian forces resulting in thousands of refugees, ended by uneasy ceasefires. They retain self-declared independence from Georgia, run by Russian-backed separatist governments.Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgian president, has waged an unsuccessful campaign to reintegrate them since coming to power in the 2003 “Rose” Revolution.He accuses Russia of hindering that process and attempting a “creeping annexation” of the regions, notably by offering their inhabitants Russian passports.