15 Years of Geo-Political Chess – Russia pushes China and India to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia

Russia's Determined Push to Forge China and India's Recognition of Separatist Enclaves.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Committee of the Federation Council representative Grigory Karasin attended events commemorating the ’15th anniversary of Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia’s independence’ in Tskhinvali on August 29. In an interview with Sputnik, he said that Russia would go to any lengths necessary to ensure that other nations, including China and India, recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia’s sovereignty following the principles of international law.

According to Karasin, the situation is complex, but the objective is clear, and despite the obstacles, this process is ongoing despite opposition from the West.

Karasin stated that this problem is difficult to solve since another side is applying pressure, specifically the West and the United States, pushing in the opposite direction.

The senator expressed confidence that Abkhazia and South Ossetia will one day be recognised as independent states.

On August 26, 2008, Russia was the first to acknowledge South Ossetia’s independence officially. Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, and Syria quickly followed this.

The Abkhazia and South Ossetia Issue

Abkhazia is located in Georgia’s extreme northwest corner. Its northern border runs along the crest of the major Caucasus watershed, and it is surrounded by the Black Sea in the south and southwest; its northwestern border follows the Psou River, and its eastern border follows the Svaneti-Abkhazia ridge and the Enguri River. The area is 8,7 thousand square kilometres, representing 12.5% of Georgia’s territory. 

South Ossetia is situated on the southern slope of the Central Caucasus in northern Georgia, with an area of 3,800 km2, representing 5.4% of Georgia’s territory.

Both the regions share a northern frontier with Russia.

Residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have repeatedly conveyed their desire for independence through referendums. In October 1999, 97.7% of Abkhazia’s voters supported the Constitution establishing Abkhazia as an independent democratic state. On two occasions – in January 1992 and November 2006 – in South Ossetia, an absolute majority (approximately 99%) of referendum participants supported the republic’s independence.

Georgia shelled South Ossetia with Grad rocket launchers on the night of August 8, 2008, and Georgian forces assaulted the republic, destroying a portion of its capital, Tskhinvali. Russia, aiming to protect the residents of South Ossetia, many of whom had Russian citizenship, deployed its forces into the republic. After five days of combat, Russian forces expelled Georgian troops from the region.

Following “all-national assemblies” on August 21, Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s presidents and parliaments sent appeals to Russia requesting recognition of their self-proclaimed states’ independence.

On August 26, 2008, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, guided by the UN Charter, the 1970 Declaration on the Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation Among States, the 1975 Helsinki Final Act of the OSCE, and other fundamental international documents, signed decrees recognising the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Georgia severed diplomatic ties with Russia and proclaimed Abkhazia and South Ossetia occupied territories in response to Russia’s decision to recognise the independence of these two Caucasian republics.

The United States and the European Union refused to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia’s independence, expressing support for Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Nicaragua was the first nation to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia after Russia. Daniel Ortega, the president of Nicaragua, issued an official decree recognising the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on September 5, 2008. Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela, declared his country’s recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on September 10, 2009.

The Republic of Nauru recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia and proclaimed the establishment of diplomatic relations with them on December 15 and 16, 2009.

In May 2011, the island nation of Vanuatu acknowledged Abkhazia’s independence. Nonetheless, in July 2013, Georgia and Vanuatu signed a protocol to establish diplomatic and consular relations, recognising Georgia’s territorial integrity, including Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The island nation of Tuvalu acknowledged the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in September 2011. On September 18 and 19, respectively, Abkhazia and Tuvalu and South Ossetia and Tuvalu signed joint declarations establishing diplomatic relations. Tuvalu revoked its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s independence in March 2014 and established diplomatic relations with Georgia, recognising its territorial integrity.

Syria recognised the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in May 2018.

According to a statement issued by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Russian Federation ensured their reliable protection and progressive development, thereby assisting them in becoming modern and independent states. Significant portions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia hold Russian citizenship and advocate a strengthened alliance with Russia. Abkhazia and South Ossetia’s security is of particular significance to Russia, and hence, Russian military bases operate on their territories, and joint border protection is conducted to prevent potential external provocations. Russia continues to be the principal trading partner of these republics, and bilateral trade has increased over time.

The trade volume between Russia and Abkhazia increased by 13% in 2022, reaching an all-time high of 30,452 billion rubles. The volume of bilateral commerce between Russia and South Ossetia increased by 4.2% to 9.7 billion rubles.

Each of these republics is implementing investment programmes to create new businesses and jobs, improve living conditions, and enhance the quality of social services. Energy, transportation, industry, and agriculture development receive targeted aid from Russia.


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