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A nation must think before it acts.
I do not like to resort to quotes, but in this case, I cannot help it. Here is a quote from another official document: the Written Statement of the United States America of April 17, 2009, submitted to the same UN International Court in connection with the hearings on Kosovo. Again, I quote: “Declarations of independence may, and often do, violate domestic legislation. However, this does not make them violations of international law.” End of quote. They wrote this, disseminated it all over the world, had everyone agree and now they are outraged. Over what? The actions of Crimean people completely fit in with these instructions, as it were. For some reason, things that Kosovo Albanians (and we have full respect for them) were permitted to do, Russians, Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in Crimea are not allowed. Again, one wonders why.
We keep hearing from the United States and Western Europe that Kosovo is some special case. What makes it so special in the eyes of our colleagues? It turns out that it is the fact that the conflict in Kosovo resulted in so many human casualties. Is this a legal argument? The ruling of the International Court says nothing about this. This is not even double standards; this is amazing, primitive, blunt cynicism. One should not try so crudely to make everything suit their interests, calling the same thing white today and black tomorrow.
–President Vladimir V. Putin, 18 March 2014
Russia and the self-declared Republic of South Ossetia — which declared itself independent from Georgia in 1990 — in December completed a draft treaty “of alliance and integration” which some analysts believe could lead to South Ossetia’s de facto annexation within a matter of days or weeks. This comes less than a year after Russia’s highly contentious annexation of Crimea.
Map of South Ossetia
The stated objective of the draft treaty — a copy of which was published online by South Ossetia’s government-controlled OSinform Information Agency — is “to promote all-round cooperation, convergence and integration between the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Ossetia, making the transition to a new level of alliance and strategic partnership.” Its intentions are unambiguous: “The new agreement is intended to legalize South Ossetia`s integration with Russia,” according to the official State Information and Press Committee of South Ossetia. According to Anatoly Bibilov, Chairman of South Ossetia’s parliament, “the new agreement between South Ossetia and Russia should be maximally integrative” and lead to “a United Ossetia” which he defined as “Two countries – one Ossetia.” Taimuraz Mamsurov, head of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania — a Russian Federation republic bordering South Ossetia — unsurprisingly called the draft treaty “a landmark, historic opportunity to make a big step towards integration with Russia.”
South Ossetia agrees within six months to “transfer power to ensure security and defense, including the defense and security of the State border” to Russia, and its armed and security forces “become part of, respectively, the Russian Armed Forces and the Federal Security Service.” So, too, borders and customs enforcement, and internal security, all of which are transferred to the Russian Federation. Russia’s central bank will “assist the National Bank of the Republic of South Ossetia in the implementation of monetary policy and strengthening the financial system.”
In December Georgia was quick to condemn “the so-called treaty […] between Russia and the occupied Tskhinvali region,” claiming its terms violate Russian commitments under a 2008 six-point ceasefire agreement brokered at the time by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The Georgian Foreign Ministry called on “the international community to take all possible measures to prevent Russian annexation of Georgia’s breakaway Tskhinvali regions.”
Former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov, who in September 2013 was appointed an aide to President Putin with responsibility for South Ossetia and its fellow Georgian breakaway republic, Abkhazia — and who recently described himself as “the author, or one of the authors, of the new Russian system” — was quoted as saying “Obviously, now it is not the best of times for Russia as sanctions and oil price fluctuations contribute to it. But the difficult economic situation in Russia will not be an obstacle for fulfilling our obligations and we assure you that we are ready for further cooperation and increase of financing will continue.”
As Commentary recently asked, “The obvious question is: Why is Putin doing this–or at least, why now? Only Putin knows for sure, but it does demonstrate how differently the conflict is viewed from Washington and from Moscow.” Another commentator goes further, noting ominously:
Russia is preparing to absorb a province of neighboring Georgia, and delivering an ultimatum to Europe that it could lose much of the Russian gas on which it relies. […] Putin has argued that the west is simply intent on ousting him and weakening Russia… Faced with these perceived attempts to undercut him and his country, Putin suggests that he has no choice but to pull around the wagons and stick it out. This could go on a long time.
 The Russian Federation formally recognized the independence of the Republic of South Ossetia by parliamentary decree on 26 August 2008. The only other states to do so are Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Nauru; Tuvalu did so in 2011 but withdrew its recognition in 2014. For its part, the Georgian government routinely refers to South Ossetia as “the occupied Tskhinvali region” and to its government as the “Tskhinvali puppet regime.” Tskhinvali is the capital of the self-declared Republic of South Ossetia.
 For example, see: Thomas De Waal (2015). “Swallowing South Ossetia.” Carnegie Moscow Center Eurasia Outlook [online edition, 14 January 2015]. https://carnegie.ru/eurasiaoutlook/?fa=57706. Last accessed 14 January 2015.
 Source: https://www.allworldwars.com/Battle%20for%20the%20South%20Ossetia%20August%202008.html. Last accessed 15 January 2015.
 Osinform.ru is a division of the South Ossetian State TV and Radio Department.
 Проект договора между Российской Федерацией и Республикой Южная Осетия о союзничестве и интеграции (“Draft treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of South Ossetia on alliance and integration”). https://osinform.ru/48181-proekt-dogovor-mezhdu-rossiyskoy-federaciey-i-respublikoy-yuzhnaya-osetiya-o-soyuznichestve-i-integracii.html. Last accessed 15 January 2015.
 “The new agreement is intended to legalize South Ossetia`s integration with Russia.” State Information and Press Committee of South Ossetia [online English language edition, 18 December 2014]. https://cominf.org/en/node/1166503816. Last accessed 15 January 2015.
 “The agreement between South Ossetia and Russia should be maximally integrative: Speaker of the Parliament of South Ossetia.” State Information and Press Committee of South Ossetia [online English language edition, 23 December 2014]. https://cominf.org/en/node/1166503855. Last accessed 15 January 2015.
 “Taimuraz Mamsurov: the Treaty between Russia and South Ossetia is a landmark, historic chance.” State Information and Press Committee of South Ossetia [online English language edition, 7 January 2015]. https://cominf.org/en/node/1166503965. Last accessed 15 January 2015.
 “Georgia condemns new treaty between Russia and South.” Georgia Newsday News Agency [online English language edition, 23 December 2014]. https://newsday.ge/en/index.php?newsid=1112. Last accessed 15 January 2015.
 See: https://news.kremlin.ru/media/events/files/41d48f190dc2821f7392.pdf. Last accessed 15 January 2015. The English-language The Moscow Times greeted the announcement with the headline, “Same Old Kremlin, Same Old Surkov.” https://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinion/article/same-old-kremlin-same-old-surkov/487354.html. Last accessed 15 January 2015.
 “Сурков в Кремле займется отношениями с Абхазией и Южной Осетией” (“Surkov to take on Kremlin relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia”). Rusnovosti.ru [online Russian language edition, 20 September 2013]. https://rusnovosti.ru/posts/282909. Last accessed 15 January 2015.
 Peter Pomerantsev (2014). “The Hidden Author of Putinism.” The Atlantic [online edition, 7 November 2014]. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/11/hidden-author-putinism-russia-vladislav-surkov/382489/. Last accessed 15 January 2015.
 “Moscow’s planned new treaty with Tskhinvali to be signed early next year.” Agenda.ge [online English language edition, 23 December 2014]. https://agenda.ge/news/27007/eng. Last accessed 15 January 2015.
 Seth Mandel (2015). “Putin’s Gambit and the Future of Ukraine.” Commentary [online edition, 15 January 2015]. https://www.commentarymagazine.com/topic/south-ossetia/. Last accesed 15 January 2015.
 Steve LeVine (2015). “Putin is about to absorb part of yet another country’s land.” Quartz [online edition, 15 January 2015]. https://qz.com/327184/putin-russia-is-about-to-absorb-part-of-yet-another-countrys-land/. Last accessed 15 January 2015.