BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO criticized pacts giving Russia direct control over the de-facto borders of two rebel regions in Georgia Thursday, saying they contravened peace deals brokered by the European Union.
Russia took formal control over the borders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia under agreements signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev earlier Thursday.
NATO spokesman James Appathurai said the signing of the pacts contravened the peace deals brokered by the EU after Russia’s brief war with Georgia last August.
“This is in clear contravention of the 12th August and 8th September agreements negotiated by the European Union and is not in the interests of long-term peace and security in the South Caucasus region,” Appathurai told reporters.
The pacts were signed one day after Russia and NATO resumed formal contacts, eight months after they were suspended over the war in Georgia.
Tensions over Georgia have been running high since Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s failed bid to retake the pro-Moscow breakaway region of South Ossetia in August.
Russia repelled the attack but provoked international condemnation for driving its troops further into Georgian territory and then recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.
Russia has criticized NATO military exercises due to begin on May 6 in Georgia, a transit route for Caspian Sea oil and gas to Europe.
NATO ordered the expulsion of two Russian diplomats on Wednesday over a spy scandal in which an Estonian official was jailed for passing secrets to Moscow.
Reporting by David Brunnstrom; writing by Timothy Heritage, editing by Dale Hudson