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Russia Threatens to Annex Georgia’s Breakaway Regions

Moscow could annex Georgia’s Russian-backed breakaway regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia, warned Kremlin security council Deputy Chair Dmitry Medvedev.

The former Russian president and prime minister accused NATO of escalating tensions by discussing Georgia’s potential membership to the alliance, something Georgia has shown interest in.

“In Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the idea of joining Russia is still popular. And it may well be implemented, if there are good reasons for it,” Medvedev said in a scattergun opinion piece published Wednesday morning on Russian news site Argumenty i Fakty in which he attacked NATO and the West at length.

The two Moscow-backed regions were at the center of a brief war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008. Following the conflict, during which Russian forces occupied nearly 20 percent of Georgia’s territory, Russia unilaterally recognized the independence of the two regions.

On the 15th anniversary of the conflict, Medvedev, who was president at the time, warned Russia “will not hesitate” to act if their unspecified “concerns” become reality.

Georgia has repeatedly expressed interest in joining both NATO and the EU over the years. In 2008, a national referendum found that 77 percent of voters backed Georgia joining NATO, and following the poll, the transatlantic military alliance issued conclusions in which it said the country would ultimately become a member, but progress on its accession has since stalled.

As Russia continues to wage all-out war in neighboring Ukraine, to Medvedev, Georgia joining NATO would be a way to “create another hotbed of tension near our borders.”

Source : Politico