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Russia to sign deal on military base in South Ossetia on Wednesday

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, April 6 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and South Ossetia are expected to sign an agreement on a Russian military base in the former Georgian republic on Wednesday, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said.

The deal is to be signed between Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and his South Ossetian counterpart Yury Tanayev, who is currently on a working visit to Moscow, said Alexei Kuznetsov.

During the talks the defense ministers are expected to sign "an Agreement between the Russian Federation and South Ossetia on a joint Russian military base on the territory of the South Ossetian republic," Kuznetsov said.

A similar agreement was signed in Moscow on February 17 with Abkhazia, another former Georgian republic. The agreement is for a 49-year term and can automatically be prolonged at 15-year intervals.

According to the agreement, the base will "protect Abkhazia's sovereignty and security, including against international terrorist groups."

The military bases are expected to be built in Gudauta, Abkhazia, and Tskhinval, South Ossetia. Each base is likely to host up to 1,700 servicemen, T-62 tanks, light armored vehicles, S-300 air defense systems and various aircraft.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed on Monday a law on ratifying treaties with the former Georgian republics on joint border protection. Under the deals, South Ossetia and Abkhazia delegate to Russia the authority to secure their borders with Georgia.

The deals stipulate cooperation with Russia in state border protection; combating terrorism; and trafficking of arms, ammunition, explosives, poisonous substances, radioactive materials, illegal drugs and psychotropic substances.

Moscow recognized the independence of the two former Georgian republics in August 2008 after a five-day war between the two countries.

Georgia has fiercely criticized the plans for the bases in its former republics, which it considers part of its territory.

Russia's military buildup in the region has also been condemned by the West for defying international law and contravening the internationally brokered ceasefire agreement signed by Russia and Georgia in the wake of their August 2008 conflict.

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