Georgia reacts angrily after a breakaway province held by Russian military announces plans to vote on joining Russia.

Georgia has condemned plans by South Ossetia’s separatist enclave to hold a referendum on joining Russia, calling them inappropriate. Following a war with Georgia in 2008, Russia recognized the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as sovereign states. In addition, Russia has stationed thousands of troops in both regions while also providing financial assistance.

TASS news agency quoted Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani as stating on Thursday, March 31:

“Of course, any notion of having a referendum (in South Ossetia) is unacceptable… when this territory in Georgia is under occupation.”

South Ossetia’s ambitions, according to the Interfax news agency, are a provocation, according to a politician from the ruling Georgian Dream party, Beka Davituliani. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, told reporters that he couldn’t comment on South Ossetia’s preparations.

He stated, “No legal or other action has been taken in this regard.” “At the same time, we respect the people of South Ossetia’s right to express their opinions.”

Abkhazia, Georgia’s other breakaway province on the Black Sea coast, said it supported South Ossetia’s aspirations but disagreed with its goal of joining Russia. “Russia is our strategic partner, a dear and near country, but we in the republic (of Abkhazia) have no plans to join the Russian Federation,” parliamentary speaker Valery Kvarchia told Interfax.

This isn’t the first time Moscow has used official recognition to justify maintaining an armed presence in former Soviet Union breakaway areas.

Russia’s long-standing assistance for armed rebels in Ukraine’s eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk provided the basis for a full-scale invasion on February 24.

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