March 21, 2015

South Ossetia's independence guaranteed by new treaty with Russia

Jonathan WadeRebel Commentator

Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov signed an “alliance and integration” treaty Thursday in Moscow.

The treaty focuses on forming a common defence and security space between Russia and South Ossetia. In fact, units from South Ossetia’s military will be integrated in the Russian Armed Forces. Adding to that, both countries agreed that if they get attacked, it will be considered an aggression on the other country.

In short, Russia is guaranteeing South Ossetia’s independence.

Russia will invest 1 billion rubles in 2016 for the implementation of the Treaty. TASS reported President Putin’s explanation of this investment: “The implementation of the treaty will be supported by considerable financial resources. In 2016, around 1 billion rubles will be allocated to South Ossetia for these purposes,” Putin told journalists. “In 2008-2014, the total amount of financial support for the republic stood at 43 billion rubles”.

Russia will most likely invest in South Ossetian energy and natural resources. Gas pipelines could be built or upgraded through South Ossetia. The region also possesses vast natural resources such as timber, manganese, iron ore, and copper and coal deposits.

The Kremlin’s website has published the transcripts of the beginning of the meeting between the two Presidents. South Ossetia’s President Leonid Tibilov said:

"We know that the Russian Federation is our people and republic’s only guarantor, and I am particularly happy that this event is taking place today, on what is such a symbolic date in the Russian people’s life. It was exactly a year ago that the agreement was signed by which the people of Crimea and Sevastopol, having expressed their free will, found their Motherland.

"We welcomed that decision right from the first. South Ossetia welcomes all of Russia’s political decisions and we always stand at your side. I want to thank you for the huge support that Russia is giving South Ossetia. We will have the chance today to give you a brief overview of some of our results and achievements in 2014. Russia is helping us to raise our living standards."

The Treaty is for a 25-year period with a possible 10 year extension. contributor Jonathan Wade served in the Canadian Forces with distinction for more than fourteen years prior to his honourable discharge in June 2014, a career which led him to travel across the globe, deploying to Afghanistan in 2009 to mentor and advise the Afghan National Army—where he was awarded the Chief of the Defence Staff Commendation—and shortly to Haiti following the earthquake of 2010.

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commented 2015-04-14 17:22:43 -0400
Great article. South Ossetia and Abkhazia are forgotten parts of Georgia that were annexed by Russia just like they did in Crimea. Yet we still allowed Russia to be part of the G7 and we still allowed them to host the Olympics and so far we are still allowing them to host the FIFA World Cup. From a governance standpoint, what I find particularly interesting with South Ossetia and Abkhazia is that their loss did not stop the former President of Georgia, Misha Saakashvili, from bringing forward important democratic reforms that actually saw his government lose power in a free, open, and transparent election that I observed with the International Republican Institute in 2012. Meanwhile, South Ossetia and Abkhazia have become rundown living Soviet museums whose economies are suffering under Russia. As an elections observer in Ukraine with CANEOM, one of my takeaways from there was that the citizens of Ukraine expect a lot from their new government and expect corruption to be curbed and democracy to flourish. It will be important that the new leaders of Ukraine not use the loss of Crimea and the Donbas region to not bring forward democratic reform. We must continue to work towards getting these territories back and must never accept their annexations. The Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine, Roman Waschuk, has paraphrased poet George Herbert, living well is the best revenge against Russia. Georgians are taking their revenge on Russia in that fashion and so must Ukraine (we could add Moldova to that argument too in relation to the Russian supported breakaway republic of Transnistria).
commented 2015-03-23 08:23:53 -0400
commented 2015-03-22 03:08:03 -0400
Interesting article. The idea of Russia arming North Korea to stoke a proxy war with the west is alarming too. Never a dull moment.

It’s hard not to feel a little ambivalent about Russia’s friendship with Kim given his increasing belligerence to Bejing. One always feels North Korea is safer under supervision. One would hope Putin wouldn’t let them do anything nuclearly crazy but the chess check position he could use North Korea to intimidate with is daunting. Hopefully he won’t invade the Baltic States but he’s been buzzing them for some time, just to keep them on edge, I guess.

Let’s hope China continues to evolve toward western interests. Not that they are a friend. But one hopes they might at least be a stabilizing influence.

Stimulating writing, Jonathan!
commented 2015-03-21 22:53:37 -0400
All the more worrisome since the United States under Obama seems uninterested in confronting the Russians about anything they do. Reagan ran up a huge debt to outspend the Soviet Union and more or less won the Cold War. With the current American debt, that would be more difficult. Plus Obama seems intent on decreasing American influence in world affairs.
China, with it’s own agenda, is a bit of a wildcard. Unless both China and Russia have agreed to keep out of each others business.
commented 2015-03-21 20:04:38 -0400
Read this about North Korea –

As for China, Russia is in a VERY delicate situation since they’ve signed a 400 billion gas deals last year. China is quickly becoming the new superpower and once it reaches that status, they won’t care about Russia.
commented 2015-03-21 19:54:23 -0400
Jonathan, Putin’s business in North Korea is worriesome. Especially given his alliances in Syria and Iran.

How does China fit into all this? I read they have negotiated some technology trade with Israel to defend their ostensible interests in building the new Silk Road.
commented 2015-03-21 17:22:00 -0400
Like eating an elephant, Putin is rebuilding the USSR one annex at a time while Obama, the UN and others do nothing. Grabbing a large chunk of Georgia, like Crimea, while using force to grab lucrative parts of Ukraine can only mean “reunification” of the USSR, or creation of Unified Putin Republic.
commented 2015-03-21 17:03:13 -0400
Hey Joan, this treay is clearly aimed at annexing South Ossetia in the near future. To be honest, most of South Ossetians are Russians so they are not against it, especially since they have Russia pouring money in the region. I don’t think there is an incidence with the 1st year anniversary of Crimea.

On the geopolitical side, Russia is once again establishing its foothold in the Caucasus and Eurasia. Putin wants to create a buffer zone between the motherland and NATO countries. Russia would also greatly benefit from having satellite states since the West isn’t too keen in redoing business with Russia.

For example, Russia is erasing 10 of the 11 billion debt North Korea currently has and will invest more than 25 billion in the North Korean railways – linking most of the country to the Port of Rason (who is currrently being upgraded) where Russia will ship coal.

Russia is desperately looking for allies and if it means to annex them and create satellite states, they will do it.
commented 2015-03-21 16:08:33 -0400
Jonathan, what do you think of this treaty? What does it mean for the people of South Ossetia? How is this similar/dissimilar to what happened in Crimea and what is the significance of the anniversary date? What does it mean for the region?