August 29, 2008 / 2:00 PM / 11 years ago

Georgia says cutting diplomatic ties with Russia

A Russian armoured vehicle leaves the tunnel in the territory of South Ossetia as it heads towards the Russian border, August 26, 2008. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

TBILISI (Reuters) - Georgia said on Friday it was cutting diplomatic ties with Russia over the Kremlin’s recognition of two Georgian rebel regions as independent states.

“We have received instructions at the Foreign Ministry and we will cut diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation,” Deputy Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze told reporters.

“The final decision has been made,” he said.

Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia on Tuesday after rolling tanks and troops over its southern border to repel a Georgian offensive to retake South Ossetia, which like Abkhazia threw off Georgian rule in the early 1990s.

In its initial response, Tbilisi had said it would recall all but two diplomats from its embassy in Moscow. The Georgian ambassador was recalled in July after Russia admitted to sending fighter jets into Georgian airspace.

The Georgian parliament adopted a resolution on Thursday urging the government to cut ties completely, and to declare Russian troops on Georgian soil as “occupying forces”.

“Georgia’s interests in Russia will be represented by the embassy of a third party,” Vashadze said, adding that consultations were underway with several countries.

He said a consul, vice-consul and technical staff would remain in Moscow.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that Moscow regretted Tbilisi’s decision to cut ties, Interfax news agency reported.

Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Writing by Matt Robinson; Editing by Giles Elgood

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