Thursday, March 20, 2008

Russian parliament to warn Georgia on NATO entry

Russia is raising the stakes with their neighbor Georgia. Worried that Georgia will begin the process of becoming a full member of NATO next month, the Russian Duma is set to vote on a resolution to urge the Kremlin to recognize the independence of the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia if Georgia moves forward with its NATO membership. Russia is arguing that the recognition of Kosovo has set a precedent. Both Abkhazia and South Ossetia have been self-governing for the past 15 years since driving the Georgian government out in short-lived civil wars in the early 1990s. And like in Kosovo, both Abkhazia and South Ossetia claim to be the home of distinct ethnic minorities that were persecuted by the Georgian government.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called NATO's consideration of Georgia as a member "a bloc expansion logic of the Cold War era." Relations between Georgia and Russia have been tense for the past several years as Georgia has tried to build ties with the West and has turned away from Russia.

Formally recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia could cause problems for Russia at home - it may prompt regions like Chechnya to make their own declarations of independence from Russia.
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