Russia has vowed to defend the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a year after acknowledging their independence from Georgia. On Wednesday, people celebrated public holidays in the separatist regions to mark the anniversary.
The event coincided with the opening of 160Km natural gas pipeline linking Russia directly South Ossetia. Until now the territory has received its fuel from Russia via Georgia.
In August last year, the Kremlin crushed a Georgian attempt to regain South Ossetia in a short but bitter war.
Meeting South Ossetia’s President in Moscow, Russian premier Vladmir Putin described recognition of the two regions as an assertion of power in the face of US dominance.
Mr Putin said: “Our decision served as a guarantee of establishing peace in the region and the survival of the two nations.”
The rest of the world, except for Nicaragua, still regards the breakaway regions as part of Georgia.
Alexander Nalbanov, Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister said: “The international community should consistently continue its non-recognition policy, and should constantly send one very simple and uniform message to the Russian Federation. Nothing is forgotten and nothing is forgiven”
Tiblisi says Russian recognition was an attempt at annexation.
Moscow claims it helped protect Russian citizens living in the two provinces.