Russia Plans to Annex Land From Another Country

In response to the war in Ukraine, the tiny self-declared state of South Ossetia has announced that it plans to hold a referendum to formally join Russia in the near future. The nation is only recognized by a few other countries; most of the world still considers it to be legally a part of Georgia, from which it declared independence in the 1990s. Russia and Georgia fought a war over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway region, in 2008.

South Ossetia to vote on joining Russia

South Ossetian President Anatoly Bibilov stated that unification with the country’s “historical homeland – Russia” has been the long-term objective for the separatist region.

The Republic of North Ossetia-Alania is already part of the Russian Federation, and its government has expressed support for the planned referendum.

Russian legislators have also reacted enthusiastically, stating that South Ossetia and Abkhazia should be allowed to join Russia if their people approve annexation via referendums.

Abkhazia, the larger of the two disputed territories, has said that it currently has no intention of holding such a referendum and that recognition as an independent state remains its priority.

Volunteers from South Ossetia have traveled to Ukraine to fight for Russia in the Donbass region, where the leader of one of the two separatist republics has openly discussed plans to join Russia.

There are clear similarities in Russia’s use of Georgian and Ukrainian separatist territories, and all are generally regarded as Russian satellites taking their orders from the Kremlin.

Ossetians celebrate possible annexation

The Kremlin, however, has not publicly embraced South Ossetia’s plans to formally join the country. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied that Russia has taken any legal action to make the annexation happen.

Georgia is extremely unhappy with the prospect of annexation, but to Tbilisi and the rest of the world the formal integration of South Ossetia would not be a radical change, as the territory is officially regarded as occupied by Russia already.

Ossetians are culturally distinct from Georgians; they speak a unique language descended from the otherwise extinct Scythian language family.

South Ossetia currently belongs to a small cadre of partially recognized or unrecognized states that maintain relations with each other. Most are in Russia’s sphere of influence.

Along with the Donbass republics and Abkhazia, this includes Artsakh and Transnistria. Transnistria in particular is currently controversial as it borders Ukraine and hosts a small Russian garrison.

All of these unrecognized states are heavily reliant on Russian support; as a former leader of South Ossetia put it “if Russia loses, all of us will lose.”

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