What is happening in South Ossetia and how it relates to Ukraine-Russia

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Russia’s war in Ukraine has devastated Europe, revived the NATO military alliance, and helped revitalize the conflict since the post-Soviet era, with places like Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed area at the center of tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

It also sparked pro-Russian sentiment in South Ossetia, an isolated region of Georgia whose independence Moscow recognized in 2008. South Ossetian President Anatoly Bibilov announced on Friday that the separatist state would hold a referendum on joining Russia on July 17.

Here’s what you need to know about South Ossetia, Russia’s ambition to be part of it, and how it relates to the conflict in Ukraine.

South Ossetia is a small Russian-backed isolated region within Georgia’s internationally recognized borders. Moscow recognized South Ossetia as an independent state, including Georgia’s Abkhazia, after the brief Georgia-Russia war of 2008. Since then, it has provided financial support to the region, deployed troops in its territory, and offered Russian citizenship and other benefits. It benefits about 55,000 residents.

Georgia has lost real control of these territories. But with the exception of a few Russian allies – such as Venezuela, Nicaragua and Syria – and three small Pacific island nations, many countries have recognized South Ossetia as an independent state.

Over the years, South Ossetia and Moscow have become closer, signing multiple agreements of cooperation.

“Since 2008, when the war broke out, Russia has become the sole power controlling and supporting South Ossetia, and the region has been separated from mainland Georgia by Tbilisi,” said Maya Otarashvili, research associate and deputy director of research. Foreign Policy Research Institute.

What did South Ossetia say about joining Russia?

Bibilov said on Thursday that South Ossetia would take legal action to join the Russian Federation “in the near future,” according to comments published by the United Russia Party Press Service and conducted by the Russian news agency Tas.

“I believe that integration with Russia is our strategic goal. This is our path and the aspiration of our people. We must move forward on this path, “he said.” Legal action will be taken in the near future. The Republic of South Ossetia will become part of its historic homeland – Russia. “

South Ossetia has previously said it wants to join Russia, only to be stopped by Moscow.

“I think there are several reasons,” Otarashvili said. “One, Moscow is already in charge of South Ossetia and is overseeing all aspects of it. And two, an attachment… a big, formal attachment, would be another step in Moscow that would be frowned upon by the West. “

This time, the Kremlin has also rejected South Ossetia’s advice. “We have not taken any legal or other action,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday, according to Reuters. “It concerns the choices of the South Ossetian people, which we respect.”

On Friday, Bibilov posted a note on his website stating that a referendum would be held on July 17.

Georgia’s Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister David Jalkalyani said on Thursday that “speculation about any referendum” on the possibility of joining the Russian Federation in South Ossetia was “unacceptable.”

Ukraine offers neutrality in talks with Russia. What does that mean?

What has this got to do with Ukraine?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine brings back painful memories for Georgians who experienced the 2008 war. Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine on February 24, the Georgian government has been careful not to provoke Russia.

Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili said on February 25 that the country would not join its Western allies in imposing economic sanctions on Russia. Georgia also reportedly prevented volunteer fighters from entering Ukraine.

When Georgia’s president, Salome Jurabishvili, traveled to Brussels and Paris in early March to express support for Ukraine, the country’s ruling party said his visit was out of bounds and planned to sue him.

“Every day, Georgians are very supportive of Ukraine. And many of them are now fighting in Ukraine as volunteers, so the government and the people are turning their backs on Ukraine, “said Otarashvili.

Georgia’s current government came to power in 2012 and has been known for its “strategy of extreme complacency with Russia,” Otarashvili added. “There has been a lot of openness between Russia and Georgia, and the current government has worked hard not to provoke Russia.”

The South Ossetian leader, meanwhile, has further aligned himself with Russia, saying in a March 26 telegram that the region was sending troops to fight on Russia’s behalf “to protect Russia,” Agence France-Presse reported.

Bibilov has supported Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

“The Russian world today is defending the interests of its followers, who oppose Nazism, who respect universal humanitarian values ​​and the fundamental rights and norms shared by the entire international community,” Tass reported on Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin initially sought to justify the attack by saying his troops planned to “disintegrate” the country, a claim that experts say was part of the Kremlin’s misleading propaganda surrounding the war.

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