Georgia cuts diplomatic ties with Syria after recognition of separatists

Supporters of the Georgian opposition United National Movement party hold anti-Putin placards during an anti-Russia rally, Tbilisi, Georgia, 15 November 2014. [Zurab Kurtsikidze/EPA]

Georgia said on Tuesday (29 May) it had started procedures to sever diplomatic relations with Syria after Damascus recognised its breakaway regions as independent states, a move Tbilisi dubbed manipulation from Russia.

Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war in August 2008. The conflict saw Russian troops repel an assault on the breakaway pro-Russian region of South Ossetia, which broke free from Tbilisi’s rule in the early 1990s.

Russia later recognised South Ossetia and Georgia’s second breakaway region of Abkhazia as independent states. Russia has thousands of troops stationed in both regions.

West cries foul as Russia strengthens ties with South Ossetia

Russia signed a wide-ranging alliance with Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia on Wednesday (18 March), which will further cement its control over the territory, despite fierce condemnation from the West.

Nicaragua, Venezuela and Nauru have also recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Georgia, backed by the United States and European Union, said the Russian operation was a naked land grab.

Georgia’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that recognition of its breakaway regions by Syria was an illegal move and disregarded international law.

“With this act the Assad regime declared its support for Russia’s military aggression against Georgia, the illegal occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions (South Ossetia) and the ethnic cleansing that has been taking place for years,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia calls on the international community to duly assess the illegal decision of the Assad regime made as a result of manipulation by the Russian Federation and to undertake the relevant steps in response.”

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