SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) – Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia plans to become part of the Russian Federation, its leader said on Thursday.
“Yes, we will be part of the Russian Federation,” South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity told reporters in the Russian resort of Sochi on the Black Sea. “We will do it according to the norms of international law.”
Kokoity was reiterating his longstanding position following Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another rebellious Georgian province, as independent states.
Russian troops crushed an attempt by Tbilisi to retake South Ossetia by force last month, drawing widespread international condemnation and prompting concern over the security of energy supplies through the region.
“Now we are an independent state and we look forward to uniting with North Ossetia and joining the Russia Federation,” Kokoity said.
South Ossetia borders North Ossetia, a region inside the Russian Federation, and broke away from Georgia’s rule after a separatist war in the 1990s. Russia and Nicaragua are the only states that have recognized its independence.
South Ossetia is a territory of around 1,500 square miles
and has a population of roughly 70,000.