South Ossetia: Breakaway region in Georgia considers referendum on annexation to Russia

President plans referendum
South Ossetia considers joining Russia

In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea after an unrecognized referendum. The annexation of South Ossetia could proceed in a similar way. There, the newly elected President Gagloyev is considering a referendum if there is a corresponding signal from the Kremlin.

In Georgia, the new president of the breakaway region of South Ossetia is considering a referendum on union with Russia, but wants to wait for a signal from Moscow first. Before such a referendum is held, Russia must be on board, the weekend’s election winner, Alan Glagoev, told the Russian news agency TASS.

After a brief war against Georgia in 2008, Russia recognized South Ossetia and the coastal region of Abkhazia as independent. The leadership in Moscow had thus created a precedent for its dealings with Ukraine. A referendum in South Ossetia could now follow the pattern in Ukraine, where Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014 after an internationally unrecognized referendum.

“This is not a one-sided process,” Glageov said, according to the TASS news agency, referring to Russia. “We have to understand our strategic partner. As soon as there is a signal, as soon as there is an agreement that the time has come, we will definitely hold this referendum.” The Georgian government calls such a referendum unacceptable. Russia already provides financial support to South Ossetia and the coastal region of Abkhazia, and has deployed thousands of troops there. The population was offered Russian citizenship.

Russia has also supported the pro-Russian separatists in Donbass in eastern Ukraine for years. Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the Luhansk and Donetsk regions controlled by the separatists as independent on February 21, and three days later the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. Since then, the Russian military has taken control of parts of eastern and southern Ukraine. In the south, it wants to create a connection to Transnistria – a narrow strip in the Republic of Moldova on the border with Ukraine. Pro-Russian Transnistria has seceded from Moldova, which Russia recognizes but not the international community.