AFP reports "Russia on Tuesday formally recognised the Georgian rebel regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states in a startling new challenge to the West that drew a hail of criticism."
Interestingly, a Russian Jotman reader had earlier suggested that a solution to the crisis might be to make both the North Ossetia (part of the Russian Federation) and South Ossetia (part of Georgia) into a single independent state. But with the Russians having gained the upper hand, that was not likely to happen.
If other countries agreed to recognize its independence, South Ossetia would be one of the world's smallest countries, with a population of only 100,000. Abkhazia, with a population of about 160,ooo would not be much larger. Andorra, with a population of 80,000, however, is still smaller.
No doubt the West will make a big fuss about this rather predicatable Russian declaration.
However, considering that the West was willing to recognize the independence of Kosovo -- an integral part of Serbia, longtime Russian ally -- over Russian objections! Seriously, who can blame Moscow? The shortsighted leaders of the West -- not to mention the megalomaniac running Georgia -- ought to have seen this one coming.
As the historical time line indicates, the South Ossetians have been fighting with the Georgians since the early decades of the Twentieth Century. Wikipedia has a good history of Abkhazia here. Today, both regions are economically bound to Russia.
The AFP article notes that amidst the rejoicing throughout South Ossetia, "Georgian police and Ossetian militiamen were locked in a stand-off over a flashpoint town, Akhalgori , which the Ossetians want to make part of their breakaway region."
Flags: Abkhazia (top) South Ossetia (bottom).