Possible union with Russia
Georgian separatists announce referendum
The secession attempts in the east play a decisive role in the Russian attack on Ukraine. The president of the Georgian separatist region of South Ossetia apparently thinks the time is right and is calling for a vote on joining Russia.
The Georgian separatist region of South Ossetia has announced a referendum on joining the Russian Federation for July 17. The region’s president, Anatoly Bibilov, signed a corresponding decree, his office said. This corresponds to the “historical aspirations” of the people in South Ossetia. Bibilow had already spoken about his project on Russian television at the end of March. The Georgian government had condemned the project as “unacceptable”.
South Ossetia, with around 60,000 inhabitants, borders on North Ossetia, which belongs to Russia. Russia officially recognized the independence of the pro-Russian separatist region and neighboring Abkhazia in August 2008 after a brief military conflict with Georgia. Russia is already providing financial support to both regions and has also stationed thousands of soldiers there. The population was offered Russian citizenship.
Bibilov later wrote on Telegram with a view to possible accession to the Russian Federation: “We’re coming home.” Now the “time has come to unite us once and for all”. A merger of South Ossetia and Russia is “the beginning of a great new history”. However, the South Ossetian president is about to be replaced. Russia has already expressed hope that his designated successor, Alan Gagloev, will ensure “continuity” in relations with Moscow.
Bibilov’s announcement came against the background of the Russian military operation in Ukraine. Russia started this on February 24 after recognizing the local pro-Russian “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent. Bibilov announced in March that he had sent South Ossetian soldiers to Ukraine to “help protect Russia”. Like the South Ossetian president, the pro-Russian leaders in Luhansk and Donetsk have announced their intention to join the Russian Federation.