International recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

Abkhazia and South Ossetia are two partially recognised breakaway republics in the Caucasus, claiming independence from Georgia.[1]

Russia's initial recognition of the independence of the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia occurred in the aftermath of the conflict in South Ossetia and six months after the western recognition of the unilateral declaration of independence by Serbia's breakaway Republic of Kosovo in February 2008.[2] This, and resultant non-recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by the West, has led to claims of hypocrisy and double standards on the part of both sides of the recognition divide.[3][4]

In total, Abkhazia and South Ossetia were recognised by six and five UN member states respectively, though Vanuatu subsequently withdrew its recognition of Abkhazia in 2013 as did Tuvalu of both in 2014.[5][6][7] The two regions recognise each other, and also have some recognition from other non-UN member states.

Georgia and the majority of countries of the world do not recognise them as independent.[8] Georgia officially considers them as sovereign territory of the Georgian state under Russian military occupation.[9]


South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia during the 1991–1992 South Ossetia War on 29 May 1992, with its Constitution referring to the "Republic of South Ossetia".[10][11][12] Abkhazia declared its independence after its war with Georgia in 1992–1993. Its Constitution was adopted on 26 November 1994.[13][14]

Developments in 2008

Kosovo's declaration of independence on 17 February 2008 and its divided international acceptance prompted speculation that there could be implications for the frozen South Caucasus situation.[15]

In April 2008, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1808 that reaffirmed "the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders and supports all efforts by the United Nations and the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General, which are guided by their determination to promote a settlement of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict only by peaceful means and within the framework of the Security Council resolutions."[16][17]

The 2008 South Ossetia war was fought in August 2008 between Georgia on one side and South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Russia on the other, resulting in a South Ossetian, Abkhaz and Russian victory and the expulsion of the Georgian military from both territories. On 21 August 2008, rallies were held in Tskhinvali and Sukhumi at which the people of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, respectively, appealed to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the Russian Federal Assembly for official recognition of their independence as sovereign states.[18][19] South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity flew to Moscow on 23 August 2008 to address the Federation Council of Russia, and in his appeal stated "what the Georgian leadership has done in South Ossetia can only be described as a Caucasian Stalingrad." On 25 August 2008, President of Abkhazia Sergei Bagapsh also made a presentation to the Federation Council. In his address to the Council, Bagapsh stated "I can say for certain that Abkhazia and South Ossetia will never be [a] part of Georgia."[20]

Russia's recognition

President Medvedev announcing that he has signed decrees recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (in Russian) Transcript in English.
Russian Presidential Decree No. 1260 recognising Abkhazian independence.
Russian Presidential Decree No. 1261 recognising South Ossetian independence.

After hearing the aforementioned appeals from both the Abkhazian and South Ossetian leadership, on 25 August 2008, the Federation Council and State Duma passed motions calling upon President Dmitry Medvedev to recognise the independence of both states and establish diplomatic relations.[20][21]

On 26 August 2008, President Medvedev signed decrees recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as sovereign states (see images, right),[22][23] and made the following statement:

"A decision needs to be taken based on the situation on the ground. Considering the freely expressed will of the Ossetian and Abkhaz peoples and being guided by the provisions of the UN Charter, the 1970 Declaration on the Principles of International Law Governing Friendly Relations Between States,[24] the CSCE Helsinki Final Act of 1975 and other fundamental international instruments, I signed Decrees on the recognition by the Russian Federation of South Ossetia's and Abkhazia's independence.

Russia calls on other states to follow its example. This is not an easy choice to make, but it represents the only possibility to save human lives."[25]

President Medvedev stated that "Western countries rushed to recognise Kosovo's illegal declaration of independence from Serbia. We argued consistently that it would be impossible, after that, to tell the Abkhazians and Ossetians (and dozens of other groups around the world) that what was good for the Kosovo Albanians was not good for them. In international relations, you cannot have one rule for some and another rule for others."[26]

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin noted previous Georgian aggression against Ossetia, and said "those who insist that those territories must continue to belong to Georgia are Stalinists — they stick to Yosif Visarionovich Stalin's decision", referring to the fact that it was Stalin, an ethnic Georgian, who gave the territory to the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, the predecessor of the modern day Georgian republic.[27][28]

The Russian representative to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin stated that Russia's recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is "irreversible" but called upon "NATO countries to withdraw and review their decision concerning Kosovo's independence" and subsequently "act on the premise that this is the new political reality."[29][30] He warned, moreover, that any NATO attack on Russia-supported regions would "mean a declaration of war on Russia."[31]

In the UN Security Council, the United States was heavily critical of Russian support of the secessionist governments, accusing the government of violating Georgia's territorial integrity. In response, Vitaly Churkin, the Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, attacked the U.S. claim to moral high ground by recalling its invasion of Iraq in 2003.[32][33] Others accused the United States of hypocrisy, citing its support of the violation of Serbian territorial integrity when it recognised the independence of Kosovo in 2008.[34]

The Russian government also welcomed Nicaragua's recognition of the two states, and called on other countries to "recognise reality" and follow Nicaragua's example. President Daniel Ortega announced that his government "recognises the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and fully supports the Russian government's position."[35] Medvedev also signed into law federal bills ratifying friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance pacts between his government and those of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The laws stipulated the obligations of each state to provide assistance to each other if either of them comes under attack, joint protection of Abkhazia and South Ossetia's borders, as well as cooperation on a wide range of economic, social, and humanitarian issues. The states would also jointly counter organised crime, international terrorism, and drug trafficking, documents to this effect were signed for 10 years with an option to extend the deal automatically.[36]

Georgia's response

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili considered Russia's move as an attempt to alter the borders of Europe by force. Below are some excerpts from his statement:[37]

This is the first attempt on European territory ... since Hitler's regime and Stalin's Soviet Union where a large state is trying unilaterally, with the use of force, to completely crush a neighbouring country and openly annex its territory.
This is inconceivable lawlessness and insolence ... Russia has done unthinkable damage to its place in the international community.
The question of the re-establishment of the territorial integrity of Georgia and the protection of its freedom — this is not an internal Georgian problem, or a question of Georgia and Russia. This is now a question of Russia and the rest of the civilised world. Georgia's future, is not only the future of Georgia, this is the future of the whole civilised world...

Deputy Foreign Minister Giga Bokeria said, "This is an unconcealed annexation of these territories, which are a part of Georgia."[38]

On 28 August, the Georgian Parliament passed a resolution declaring Abkhazia and South Ossetia "Russian-occupied territories" and instructed the government to annul all previous treaties on Russian peacekeeping.[39] The following day the government announced that it was severing diplomatic ties with Russia, with the Georgian Embassy in Moscow and the Russian Embassy in Tbilisi to close as a result. Georgia recalled its ambassador from Russia and ordered all Russian diplomats to leave Georgia, saying that only consular relations would be maintained. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented on this decision, saying that some 600,000 to 1 million Georgians in Russia would be left to the "mercy of fate".[40][41][42] Later, Georgia also severed diplomatic relations with Nicaragua.[43] Georgia moved to economically isolate the regions. A ban on economic activity in the regions without Georgian permission was issued, and anyone caught violating this ban by the Georgian authorities faced prosecution. The Georgian Navy blockaded the coast of Abkhazia, and has seized 23 cargo ships trying to bring supplies to Abkhazia, most notably fuel supplies. Abkhazia is dependent on fuel imports, and faced a serious shortage as a result. Russia began deploying boats from its own Black Sea Fleet on 21 September 2009, in response.[44] In August 2009, Russia and South Ossetia accused Georgia of shelling Ossetian villages and kidnapping four South Ossetian citizens. Russia threatened to use force unless the shelling stopped, and put its troops stationed in South Ossetia on high alert.[45]

Georgia criticised Nauru following the small island state's recognition of Abkhazia. Minister of Reintegration Temur Yakobashvili stated "The recognition of Abkhazia's independence by Nauru is more like a comedy ... it changes nothing on the international arena".[46]

In January 2010, Georgia adopted a strategy regarding the reintegration of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The strategy is called Involvement through Cooperation and it was presented to the international organisations as well as to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The document says Georgia views peaceful methods as the only way for conflict solution and that there won’t be a war with these regions. It envisions engagement of people of these two regions through education as well as social, economic and business projects, instead of isolation.[47][48]

Western response

The European Union, NATO,[49] the OSCE,[50] and the United States[51] immediately voiced displeasure with Russia's decision.


Abkhazia is recognised by Russia and three other countries
South Ossetia is recognised by Russia and three other countries

Comparisons with Kosovo

The Assembly of the Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, under administration of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo since 1999, unilaterally declared independence as the Republic of Kosovo on 17 February 2008.[52] The Republic of Kosovo was soon recognised by the United States and the EU-3.[53]

In an emergency session of the UN Security Council Serbian President Boris Tadić asked the Council, "Are we all aware of the precedent that is being set and are we aware of the catastrophic consequences that it may lead to?" The Permanent Representatives of the United States, United Kingdom and France presented their opinion that the Kosovo case is sui generis in nature and could not be perceived as a precedent.[54]

The setting of a precedent was mentioned by many countries. Among them were Argentina,[55] and Cuba.[56] India stated that Kosovo "can set a very dangerous precedent for similar cases around the world."[57] The then Russian President Vladimir Putin described the recognition by Western powers of Kosovo independence as "terrible precedent, which will de facto blow apart the whole system of international relations, developed not over decades, but over centuries."[58] He then went on to say, "They have not thought through the results of what they are doing. At the end of the day it is a two-ended stick and the second end will come back and hit them in the face."[58]

In hearings before the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, California Republican Congressman and member of the Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight, Dana Rohrabacher, compared the situation in Georgia to Kosovo.[59]

"Now, we can talk until we are blue in the face, trying to say there is no analogy here, but it does not cover up the obvious analogy between Kosovo and what is going on in Georgia, where you have breakaway republics similar to what the Serbs faced. Now, the only difference is, of course, we are Americans, and they are Russians, and the people trying to break away there were pro-Russian.

Either we are for democracy, either we are for those people in Kosovo and in Ossetia and elsewhere and, I might say, in Georgia for their right to be separate from Russia, to begin with, and if we lose that, we have lost the high ground.

We are already losing our credibility right now. Let us not lose the high ground."[60]

Some analysts at the time called ignoring Russian objections and the move by the United States and the EU-3 a mistake, with Ted Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute stating that their view of Kosovo being sui generis and setting no precedent as "extraordinarily naïve".[61] It was also suggested that Russia could use the case of Kosovo as pretext for recognising Abkhazia and South Ossetia or annexing Crimea in the future.[61][62] The Heritage Foundation suggested that Kosovo is no precedent due to its administration by the United Nations as a protectorate for seven years and was blocked from being admitted to the United Nations due to Russia being able to use their veto in the United Nations Security Council.[63]

In July 2008, in a speech to Russian ambassadors on Russian foreign policy, Dmitry Medvedev opined that "for the European Union, Kosovo is almost what Iraq has proved to be for the United States" and that they acted unilaterally in pursuit of their own self-interests and undermined international law in the process.[64]

Latvian newspaper Diena on 28 August 2008 argued that Medvedev’s decree was "a blow below the belt" for Russia’s ally Serbia. "If the changes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia occurred, as Russia claims, in accordance with the example set in Kosovo, then that means that Russia has indirectly admitted that Kosovo’s departure from Serbia was lawful."[65]

In September 2009, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, when asked by journalists why Abkhazia and South Ossetia should be internationally recognised and Kosovo not, said that "the strongest argument is the fact that at the time when Kosovo’s authorities made the UDI, nobody was threatening them or putting them in a position where they had to secede. On the contrary, Belgrade even went so far as to refrain from exerting any military or economic pressure on Pristina."[66]

In October 2009, Dmitry Medvedev said that parallels between Kosovo and South Ossetia are "inappropriate". "We are categorically against drawing parallels between the Balkan events and the events in the Caucasus," he said. "As concerns South Ossetia – it’s our unambiguous, absolutely clear position – it about repelling direct military aggression. And what was done by Russia after that, was done in full accordance with the UN Charter." He said that Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence and the events that followed "have confirmed the inadequacy of attempts to adjust the solution of complex international problems to considerations of notorious political expediency." "We consider it unacceptable to do what was done in the Kosovo precedent – to use the lack of progress at negotiations as the reason for unilateral actions, including recognition of new international legal entities," the Russian president said.[67]

As a precedent in other disputes

Оn 18 September 2008, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov summarised and explained Russia's position in relation to the other two frozen conflicts in the former Soviet Union, the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic, both de facto independent republics seeking international recognition.[68]

"Russia will provide active support to the peaceful resolution of all conflicts in the CIS area on the basis of international law, respect to all principles of UN charter, previously attained agreements in striving for an agreement between the involved parties. We will execute our mediatory mission in the negotiation process with great responsibility, which refers to Transdniestria and Nagorno Karabakh. Each conflict has its own features, format and mechanisms of mediation. But the South Ossetian crisis does not set a precedent for them."[69]

He went on to give the following explanation for this position:

"None of those concerned with Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistrian settlement plan to violate international law, tear up existing accords, destroy the agreed settlement formats and bomb civilian residents and peacekeepers. There is no one there who would like to ensure territorial integrity by mass killing of people whom you consider your citizens, residents of your own country. There can be no parallels here. Thank God Saakashvili is the sole phenomenon of its kind."[70]

Nagorno-Karabakh Republic

Map of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

The French ambassador to Armenia Serge Smessoff commented that "the events in Georgia have changed the regional situation, and therefore we hope that there will arise the possibility of rapid solution to the Karabakh conflict."[71]

In Armenia the five political parties: the Union "Constitutional Right", the Democratic Party of Armenia, the United Communist Party of Armenia, the Christian-Democratic Union of Armenia and the Union "National Self-Determination" welcomed the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by the Russian Federation.[72] The Union "Constitutional Justice" stated in a declaration that "today an unprecedently favourable situation for the international recognition of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic has come to a head, and Armenian diplomacy does not have the right to delay" and "What Armenian and Karabakh diplomacy could not do in 17 years, Russia has done in 20 days." Тhe declaration went on to say that "in case of the conflicts which have arisen on post-Soviet space, the thesis of territorial integrity cannot be a method for solving the conflicts. On the contrary, the continued reiteration of this thesis can lead the conflict to military confrontation, and all of the consequences that entails."[73]

The Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, however, stated that Armenia will not formally recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states any time soon, but reiterated his support for their residents’ right to self-determination. He said that Armenia will not recognise them "for the same reason that it did not recognize Kosovo’s independence. Having the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenia can not recognize another entity in the same situation as long as it has not recognized the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic."[74]

Secretary of the opposition party Heritage Stepan Safaryan expressed the opinion that the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Armenia would be dangerous as it could damage Armenia's sole stable way to communicate with the outside world – through Georgia.[75]


Map of Transnistria.

President of the unrecognised Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic, also known as Transnistria, Igor Smirnov said that "the Russian leadership, in recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, has underlined the priority of the expression of the will of the people for solution of such problems."[76]

On 25 August, the day before Russia's recognition, Dmitry Medvedev met with President of Moldova Vladimir Voronin, where the Russian leader made it clear that Moscow is ready to solve the Transnistrian problem within the framework of the sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova with the maximum effort. Relations between Moldova and Pridnestrovia worsened after Moldova refused to support the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.[76]

Within Russia

According to a declaration addressed to the Council of Europe by Russian human rights activists, "the situation in the North Caucasus republics has became greatly more agitated since the war between Russia and Georgia in the South Caucasus." In Ingushetia, Ingush opposition activist, Magomet Khasbiyev in an interview with radio station Ekho Moskvy called for Ingushetia to separate from Russia, saying that "We must ask Europe or the US to separate us from Russia." He also said "If we aren't acceptable to this country, we don't know what else we should do."[77]

President Dmitry Medvedev did not express concerns about possibility of renewed separatist sentiments in the North Caucasus and believed such scenarios could only arise from foreign countries. In an interview with Euronews he said that he did not "see any such dangers so long as the people from abroad do not meddle in these affairs, thinking up various scenarios for dismembering Russia."[78]


Georgian justice minister Nika Gvaramia claimed that “this will have very serious political consequences for Russia." "We will overcome this crisis, I am sure; but what is Russia going to do with its own state – in respect of separatism, which is still a problem in Russia; I'm not worried much about it, but I am sure that it will lead to a total collapse of Russia if not today, tomorrow, for sure," he told journalists.[79]

Various arguments

Following the Russian recognition of South Ossetia, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt stated, "South Ossetian independence is a joke. We are talking about a smugglers' paradise of 60,000 people financed by the Russian security services. No one can seriously consider that as an independent state."[80]

When asked about U.N. resolutions that supported Georgia's territorial integrity, Permanent Representative of Russia to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin claimed that "Their use of force against South Ossetia clearly dashed all those previous resolutions and created a completely new reality."[81] However, France's deputy UN ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix argued that "there is no way you can “dash” or “cancel” or whatever “terminate” a resolution of the Security Council by force."[82]

Andrey Illarionov, former advisor to Vladimir Putin, argued that recognition of Abkhazia will legitimize the ethnic cleansing and apartheid. He also cited several differences between Kosovo and Abkhazia as the reasons why Abkhazia should not be granted recognition. In Kosovo the ethnic cleansing was carried out by Serbs – the opponents of secession; In Abkhazia it was committed by the secessionists. While the right of return of refugees to Kosovo was a precondition for self-determination, in Abkhazia the self-determination is linked with the refusal to allow the return of internally displaced people. Abkhaz separatists rejected several peace plans proposed by Georgia, the United Nations, and Germany; while in Kosovo it was Serbia that rejected peace efforts. After the war, Kosovo was ruled by U.N. administration; while Abkhazia denies international organizations entry.[83]

Stephen F. Jones argued that while South Ossetia was seeking for union with Russia, the political realities of the South Caucasus made this an unlikely prospect. In the 2012 presidential elections, Alla Dzhioyeva, an opposition representative had victory snatched from her by the South Ossetian Supreme Court. This illustrated the region’s limited political autonomy, which was underlined by the unchallengeable presence of the Russian military. That court decision supported the contention that South Ossetia is a not a real state, but a Russian vassal. South Ossetia's borders are controlled by Russia. There is no South Ossetian foreign policy. South Ossetia does not have the functions of a state to provide for its citizens. There is little popular support for independence.[84]

Other events

Abkhazia said it would not take part in the "Geneva Talks on Security and Stability in the Caucacus" in June 2010 because of concerns over the objectivity of the co-chairmen who were representatives of the UN, the EU, and OSCE. A spokesman said "Our proposals are being ignored, discussions on the non-renewal of war are being procrastinated, instead secondary questions are being discussed. Thereupon we feel the co-chairmen have no real proposals, and we want to give them time till September to prepare a document, concerning security, and acceptable for all sides. The Geneva discussions are necessary, and it is normal that each party voices its position, but the mediators must be neutral and non-biased. But the mediators fail to conduct discussions in a constructive impartial manner."[85]

Positions taken by states

A world map, showing the status of international recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia independence by nation:
  Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
  States that recognise both Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent.
  States that do not recognise either.

States formally recognising Abkhazia or South Ossetia as independent

UN member states

State Date of recognition Diplomatic relations established Notes
1  Russia 26 August 2008[25][86][87] 9 September 2008[88] Ambassadors Semyon Grigoriyev and Elbrus Kargiyev presented their credentials to Abkhaz President Sergey Bagapsh and South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity on 16 December 2008.[89][90]
Embassy of Russia to South Ossetia was opened on February 2009.[91]
Embassy of Russia to Abkhazia was opened on 1 May 2009.[92]

Embassy of South Ossetia to the Russian Federation was opened in 2009.

Embassy of Abkhazia to Russia was opened on 18 May 2010.[93]

2  Nicaragua 5 September 2008[94][95][96] 10 September 2009 (Abkhazia) [97][98]

14 April 2010 (South Ossetia) [99]

Ambassador of Nicaragua to Abkhazia resident in Moscow.[100]
"The formal part of the process to open diplomatic missions of Abkhazia and S. Ossetia in Managua has been completed" told Samuel Santos, foreign minister of Nicaragua.[101]

Embassy of South Ossetia to Nicaragua was opened on 30 August 2011.[102]

3  Venezuela 10 September 2009[103] 9 July 2010 (South Ossetia)
12 July 2010 (Abkhazia) [104][105]
President Hugo Chávez met the leaders of both states in Caracas and said "I'm sure we, together with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, will be able to build strong relations with Latin American nations such as Paraguay, Uruguay, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina."[106]
Ambassador of Venezuela Hugo José García Hernández presented his credentials to Abkhaz President Sergey Bagapsh on 12 July 2010."[107]
Embassy of Abkhazia to Venezuela was opened on 12 July 2010.[108]
4  Nauru 15 December 2009 (Abkhazia)
16 December 2009 (South Ossetia) [109][110]
15 December 2009 (Abkhazia)
16 December 2009 (South Ossetia) [111]
Representatives of Nauru were present as observers for the presidential elections in Abkhazia on 26 August 2011.[112]

Other states

State Date of recognition Diplomatic relations established Notes
1  Abkhazia
 South Ossetia
19 September 2005 or before[note 1] 26 September 2007[113] Abkhazia and South Ossetia mutually recognise each other.[114]
Embassy of South Ossetia to Abkhazia was opened on 15 April 2008.[101]
Ambassador of Abkhazia Nodar Pliev presented his credentials to South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity on 10 December 2010.[115]
2  Transnistria 22 January 1993 or before (Abkhazia)[note 1]
12 October 1994 or before (South Ossetia)[note 1]
Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia mutually recognise each other.[114]
Representative offices of Transnistria in Abkhazia and South Ossetia have been opened.[116]
Representative offices of Abkhazia nad South Ossetia in Tiraspol have been opened.
3  Nagorno-Karabakh 17 November 2006 [117] Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia mutually recognise each other.[118]

On 12 February 2010 it was announced that it is expected to establish diplomatic relations with Abkhazia.[119]

4  Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic 30 September 2010 (South Ossetia)[120][121][122][123][124][125][126] De facto recognition.

On 29 September 2010 the SADR Minister for African Issues Mohamed Yeslem Beyssat said referring to South Ossetia: “Western Sahara de facto recognizes the independence of South Ossetia. Now we have to formalise relations de jure, including the establishment of diplomatic relations".[127] The two states have had various formal and informal contacts.[128]

States which recognised Abkhazia or South Ossetia as independent, but subsequently withdrew recognition

UN member states

State Date of recognition Diplomatic relations established Notes
1  Tuvalu 18 September 2011 (Abkhazia)
19 September 2011 (South Ossetia)[129][130]
18 September 2011 (Abkhazia)
19 September 2011 (South Ossetia)[130][131]

On 31 March 2014 Georgia and Tuvalu signed an agreement on establishing diplomatic and consular relations. The agreement was signed by Tuvalu's Minister of Environmental Protection, Foreign Affairs, Labour and Trade, and Georgian Foreign Minister Maya Panjikidze during the visit of Tuvalu's governmental delegation to Georgia. The agreement stipulates that both sides agreed to develop relations on the grounds of the principles of sovereign equality, friendly relations and cooperation, territorial integrity, non-violation of borders and non-interference in homeland affairs. It emphasises that Tuvalu recognises the territorial integrity of Georgia within its international recognised borders, including its regions – Abkhazia’s autonomous republic and Tskhinvali region.[6][7][132]

In April 2014, it was suggested that Russia was more embarrassed by Tuvalu's withdrawal of recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, than by international sanctions for Crimea, since this "decision could spell the end of a years-long diplomatic strategy that has cost Russia millions."[133]

2  Vanuatu 23 May 2011 (Abkhazia)[134][135][136] 23 May 2011 (Abkhazia)[135][137]

On 23 May 2011 Vanuatu recognised Abkhazia's independence and established diplomatic relations and a visa-free travel regime with Abkhazia.[134][135][136][137][138][139][140]

On 18 March 2013, Johnny Koanapo, Vanuatu Director-General of Foreign Affairs, stated that diplomatic relations had never been established with Abkhazia. He said that "There’s been a confusion over what the government had intended to do which was just simply a letter stating that there might be an intention to establish relations with Abkhazia. But at this point in time, there’s no action on that and there’s no decision".[141][142][143]

On 20 May 2013, Georgia claimed that Moana Carcasses Kalosil, Vanuatu's new Prime Minister, had confirmed that Vanuatu had withdrawn its recognition of Abkhazia.[5][144] On 12 July 2013 Georgia and Vanuatu signed an agreement on establishing diplomatic and consular relations, which stated that "the Republic of Vanuatu recognises territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders, including its regions – the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia."[145] Abkhazia's Foreign Minister Viacheslav Chirikba responded by claiming that Vanuatu had not officially withdrawn its recognition of Abkhazia.[146]

On 30 March 2015, Vanuatu Foreign Minister Sato Kilman met with Chirikba in Moscow, the two officials expressing their desire to strengthen bilateral relations.[147] The following day, Kilman declared in an interview with RIA Novosti that "nothing had changed" in respect to Vanuatu's 2011 recognition of Abkhazia, but that the Carcasses government had merely decided to pursue diplomatic relations with Georgia rather than Abkhazia, that he didn't consider diplomatic relations with Abkhazia and Georgia to be incompatible, and that he hoped diplomatic relations with Abkhazia would soon be formalised.[148] In June 2015, Kilman was sacked as Foreign Minister, partly as a result of this meeting, with Prime Minister Joe Natuman again clarifying the government's position that "Abkhazia is part of Georgia".[149][150] However, the following week Kilman replaced Natuman as Prime Minister.[151]

States that do not recognise Abkhazia or South Ossetia as independent

UN member states

State Position
 Albania The Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement condemning Russia's decision to recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia, calling the move "totally unacceptable" and "contrary to UN Security Council resolutions". The Ministry denied any parallels to its own recognition of Kosovo, claiming Kosovo to be a special case.[152]
 Antigua and Barbuda The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Baldwin Spencer held talks in May 2012 with Irakli Khintba, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Abkhazia, regarding that country’s desire to obtain official recognition from Antigua and Barbuda. Baldwin Spencer pledged to continue dialogue on the issue with Abhazian officials.[153]
 Australia Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said that "the declaration overnight by Russian President Medvedev I don't believe is a helpful contribution. Indeed some may regard that as provocative. I don't think it helps circumstances in Georgia and I don't think it helps relationships generally between Russia and the rest of the world. Australia respects the territorial integrity of Georgia and our ongoing position is that we believe that Russia should abide by the ceasefire effected through the European Union and President Sarkozy and return its forces to the positions they occupied on August 6 and 7".[154][155]
 Austria Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik said in a statement that "this step goes against all the principles of Georgian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, which Russia has repeatedly accepted in the UN Security Council. The Georgian conflict must be solved through dialogue and international mediation, not through unilateral measures".[156]
 Armenia President Serzh Sargsyan has stated that Armenia will not formally recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states any time soon but reiterated his support for their residents’ right to self-determination. He also said that Armenia will not recognise them for the same reason that it did not recognise Kosovo’s independence and that Armenia can not recognise another entity in the same situation as long as it has not recognised the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.[157] Tigran Balayan, Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Office said, "Armenia has always favoured and continues to believe that any attempt for military solution to conflicts is futile. Such conflicts should be resolved on the basis of free expression of the will of the people".[158]
 Azerbaijan Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Khazar Ibrahim stated, "Azerbaijan’s position remains unchanged. We recognise Georgia’s territorial integrity".[159]
 Belarus On 28 August 2008, Vasily Dolgolyov, the Belarusian Ambassador to Russia, said that Belarus would in the next day or two recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. President Alexander Lukashenko had also expressed support for Russia, saying "Under the circumstances Russia had no other moral choice but to support appeals of South Ossetian and Abkhazian peoples on the recognition of their right for self-determination in line with fundamental international documents."[160][161][162] Lukashenko then suggested considering this issue at the CSTO Collective Security Council Summit on 5 September 2008. However, Lukashenko later reaffirmed Belarus' intentions to recognise the breakaway republics, stating that the issue would be addressed after the parliamentary election on 28 September 2008.[163] On 25 September, President of Abkhazia Sergei Bagapsh and President of South Ossetia Eduard Kokoity officially requested that Lukashenko recognise the independence of their republics.[164] In December 2008, a member of the National Assembly of Belarus claimed that the Assembly will consider Abkhazia and South Ossetia's requests for official recognition in the first half of 2009.[165] In January 2009 it was announced that the Belarusian parliament would debate on the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on 2 April.[166] However, Belarus decided not to recognise the two regions as independent states.

According to Peter Rutland, the EU has rewarded the Belarusian President Lukashenko for not recognising the republics by suspending the travel ban for top Belarusian officials that had been imposed in 2004.[167] Karel Schwarzenberg has stated publicly, that if Belarus recognises Abkhazia and South Ossetia, it can forget about the Eastern Partnership. "If they would recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia it would create a very, very difficult situation for Belarus," Schwarzenberg has said.[168] This led Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, to accuse the EU of blackmailing Belarus by linking recognition of the two republics to membership in the Eastern Partnership program, in relation to Schwarzenberg's statement stating "What was that: blackmail or European Democracy in action?"[169] Sweden, co-author of the Eastern Partnership program, rejected Lavrov's position as "completely unacceptable". The EU's position on Georgia is not 'blackmail' but "is about upholding the principles of the EU and international law, which Russia should also be respecting", stated Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt [170] According to, which is citing Russian media reports, Belarus is under Kremlin pressure to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia. There have been suppositions Russia has offered Belarus a $500 million credit on condition that Belarus recognises the two regions as independent.[171] In June 2009, President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus said Moscow had made recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia a condition for Belarus to receive the last $500 million of a $2 billion loan, but added that Belarus’ position was not for sale. Russian officials have denied any such link.[172][173] The government of Belarus has informed its citizens to abide by Georgian laws when travelling to the regions. The Foreign Ministry of Belarus stated that Belarusians should only use entrance points on the Georgian side.

Belarusian lawmakers visited Abkhazia and South Ossetia in late 2009 to study the situation and decide to postpone decision to spring 2010.[174] South Ossetia asked for a symmetrical approach between them and Abkhazia.[175]

 Belgium Belgian foreign minister Karel De Gucht called the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia unacceptable and a violation of the territorial integrity of Georgia. He added that Russia has created a dangerous precedent that threatens the stability of Europe.
 Bulgaria Foreign Ministry spokesperson Dimitar Tsanchev said, "The decision of Russian authorities to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is causing serious worry. Bulgaria once again re-iterates its unconditional support for the independence, sovereignty and internationally recognised borders".[176]
 Canada Minister of Foreign Affairs, David Emerson, issued the statement on the situation in Georgia saying that "Canada is gravely concerned about Russia’s recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This recognition violates Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and is contrary to UN Security Council resolutions supported by Russia, as well as to the six-point peace plan brokered by President Nicolas Sarkozy on behalf of the EU".[177]
 People's Republic of China On 27 August Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said that China is "concerned of the latest development in South Ossetia and Abkhazia". He also said "We have a knowledge of the complicated history and reality of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia issues. In accordance with China's consistent and principled stance on issues of this kind, we hope the relevant parties can resolve the issue through dialogue and consultation".[178]
 Croatia Former President Stjepan Mesić stated that he is worried over the Russian decision and said that "such a decision makes the complex situation in the region even more complex". He also said that "fait accompli policy could create an impression that the move was aimed at avoiding talks on the future status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia".[179] Neven Jurica, former Croatian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, called the Russian Federation's action regrettable and illegitimate.[180]
 Costa Rica At a UN Security Council meeting regarding the Georgia situation, Jorge Urbina, the Permanent Representative to the UN for Costa Rica, referred to the Russian actions as the dismemberment of a UN member state by force. "We cannot, and the international community should not, reward this approach, which is counter in all aspects to international law.... Such a settlement could not be based on 'might is right' and must include respect for the territorial integrity of Georgia, the rights of the peoples of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the integrity of international law and the principles of peaceful coexistence as enshrined in the United Nations Charter."[181]
 Cyprus Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou has said that relations of Russia and Cyprus are very close but on the other hand Cyprus supports "the respect and protection of the territorial integrity of states, and this is a principle which the Republic of Cyprus supports and supported in the case of Kosovo, so developments of the past few days in Georgia have worried us".[182] The government has issued a statement saying that "Cyprus expresses its deep concern over developments in Georgia. The Republic of Cyprus supports the respect of the rules of international law including the respect of the territorial integrity of states, of the UN Charter and of the principles of the Helsinki Final Act. Moreover, the Cyprus Government supports peaceful resolution of international disputes by political means through negotiations, avoiding unilateral actions that could aggravate the situation in this sensitive region".[183]
 Czech Republic The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement calling Russia's action "an attack on the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia".[184]
 Denmark Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller declared "unconditional support for Georgia's territorial integrity".[184]
 Dominican Republic Dominican Republic MPs Francisco Matos and Ramon Fernandez travelled to Abkhazia in December 2010 and met with Abkhaz officials, including Sergey Shamba, Maxim Gvindzhia and Nugzar Ashuba. The Dominican Republic politicians voiced their support for the establishment of friendly ties with Abkhazia, and invited their Abkhazian counterparts to visit their country to establish inter-parliamentary ties.[185] Dominican Republic Deputy Prime Minister José Miguel Abreu visited Abkhazia in May 2011 and met with senior Abkhaz government officials. Sergey Bagapsh stated in Moscow that recognition from a Latin American nation could be expected in May.[186] Philip Gordon, the American Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, later warned the Dominican Republic against recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.[187]
 Ecuador Ecuador's President Rafael Correa promised to consider recognition if Abkhazia and South Ossetia requested it. Leaders from Abkhazia and South Ossetia responded saying they would send official requests for recognition.[188] Abkhazia submitted such a request in December 2009.[189]
 Estonia Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated "Russia's move is a deliberate breach of international law and the principles of stability in Europe. Estonia, like all European Union and NATO member states, adheres firmly to the principles of Georgia’s territorial integrity".[190]
 Finland Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said that "the recognition of independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia violates fundamental OSCE principles. As all OSCE participating States, Russia is committed to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of others. Russia should follow OSCE principles by respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia. Russia should immediately withdraw all troops from Georgia and implement the ceasefire agreement, including the modalities defined in the 16 August 2008 letter of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The international community cannot accept unilaterally established buffer zones".[191]
 France The French Foreign Ministry spokesman said, "We consider this is a regrettable decision and I recall our attachment to the territorial integrity of Georgia".[192] French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that "in a certain way, yes, ethnic cleansing is taking place" in villages previously controlled by the Georgian side. "We cannot accept these violations of international law, of accords for security and cooperation in Europe, of United Nations resolutions, and the taking ... of a territory by the army of a neighbouring country."[193]
 Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel said, "this contradicts the principle of territorial integrity, a principle based on the international law of nations and for this reason it is unacceptable".[194]
 Greece Minister of Foreign Affairs Dora Bakoyannis stated that among the principles of Greek foreign policy is "respect for the independence and territorial integrity of states". Furthermore, she expressed dismay at the developments and stated that they subscribed to the French Presidency's statement condemning the decision to recognise the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.[195]
 Hungary The Hungarian Foreign Ministry issued a statement, regretting the decision of the Russian government and stating that "these decisions do not serve the stability of the Caucasus region and do not advance negotiations over a settlement of the very conflict which has produced severe humanitarian and material consequences".[196]
 Iceland Sturla Böðvarsson, Speaker of Althing, condemned Russia for recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in a joint declaration with speakers of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Statement said that the recognition violates United Nations Security Council resolutions and contradicts principles of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Speakers also called on Russia to reverse its decision.[197]
 Indonesia Marty Natalegawa, Indonesian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said that he had been watching the situation apprehensively and that the developments were of deep concern and did not speak well for the Security Council. He said that his country had spoken in favour of diplomacy and the power of argument over force and that the Sarkozy six-point document had been a welcome development that should have ensured that the principle of the inviolability of a State’s sovereignty and territorial integrity remained intact. He expressed disappointment that the Security Council had instead remained silent in the face of the violation. He also said that the principles of the peaceful resolution of differences and of territorial integrity were fundamental.[180]
 Iran The Ambassador of Iran to Russia, Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi, said in early February 2009 that his nation will not recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia's independence in the near future, "as it can cause war in many areas," but on the other hand he did not rule out eventual Iranian recognition of the independence of the two areas. Sajjadi defended Russia's measures in the 2008 South Ossetia war and its decision to recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent nations. Sajjadi also said he sympathised with the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and that Tehran will work with Moscow to develop the two areas' economy.[198]
 Ireland Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin stated in a statement that "This deeply regrettable decision is contrary to the principles of Georgia’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. Moreover, it can only complicate the urgent task of finding political solutions to the acute difficulties in the region and to the wider international tensions which have developed over the past weeks".[199]
 Israel The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on 10 August 2008 that "Israel is following with great concern the developments in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and hopes the violence will end. Israel recognises the territorial integrity of Georgia and calls for a peaceful solution."[200]
 Italy Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said "The move does not apply in an international legal framework. An ethnic-based balkanisation of the Caucasus is a serious danger for all".[201]
 Japan Yasuaki Tanizaki, director general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's European bureau, said "Our country is gravely concerned about the move. Our country hopes that Russia ... will take responsible actions for the region's stability".[202]
 Kazakhstan Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev said he understood the measures taken by Russia and urged the international community against raising the prospect of a new Cold War,[203] while also saying he considers that "Russia's actions were directed to protect the residents of long-suffering regions. In response Russia could either ignore or prevent the bloodshed".[204]
In October 2008, Foreign Minister Marat Tazhin said that "the principle of territorial integrity is key in international law" and that for this reason Kazakhstan did not recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia or Kosovo.[205]

In December 2008, Prime Minister Karim Masimov stated that "We have an official position. Kazakhstan did not recognise Kosovo and does not recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We consider that borders are defined and Kazakhstan will not recognise any new states."[206]

 Kyrgyzstan At a Minsk press conference on 27 August 2008, Kyrgyzstan's ambassador to Belarus said regarding South Ossetian and Abkhazian independence that "(a)ll legal aspects should be measured as the situation is unusual. It is unusual in view of the recognition of separate states in the CIS and Georgia’s withdrawal from the CIS. These issues allow us to approach the topic with due consideration, allow us to study and listen to analysts, observers, counsellors of state. As the issue is being studied I cannot express an opinion because the issue is too fresh".[207]
 Latvia Foreign Minister Māris Riekstiņš condemned Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Stating that such "a decision is contrary to the principles of Georgia's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, which are recognised by the United Nation's Charter, the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and the UN Security Council resolutions".[208]
In December 2009, President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers, said that Latvia will never recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.[209]
 Lebanon The leader of Lebanon's parliamentary majority Saad Hariri statement states, "The recognition issue will be solved at the highest state level. But we will fine-tune contacts with South Ossetia and Abkhazia now. For example, delegations of our businessmen will leave for there soon; Lebanon feels what situation South Ossetia was stuck in; Lebanon is also a small state which comes under threats. On one side there is Israel, which has attacked us many times. On the other side there is Syria which threatens Lebanon from time to time; Russians were taking measures to protect their citizens and local residents in South Ossetia; Russia is one of the states which in no way wants to get involved in military conflicts; Moscow's negative attitude to the beginning of the war in Iraq and efforts made to prevent military scenario in Iran's situation are examples for this. Russia advocates peaceful resolution everywhere".[210]
 Lithuania Lithuania's Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said that Russia's decision to recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia was a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia.[211]
 Luxembourg A joint Ministry of State and Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement states "We noted with regret the decision taken by the Russian authorities to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a decision contrary to the basic principles of the UN Charter and the OSCE. It is contrary with the obligations which Russia took on several occasions at the time of Security Council resolution votes, in particular Resolution 1808".[212]
 Mexico The government of Mexico expressed concern for stability, peace and international security following the Russian recognition and urged all parties to achieve a peaceful solution and lasting peace in the Caucasus region through dialogue. It also called on those involved to respect the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law.[213]
 Moldova Faced with its own breakaway region, Transnistria, the government of Moldova released a statement saying it would not recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.[214]

Gagauzia, an autonomous region of Moldova, passed a resolution, recognising independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, backing Russia's actions in the regions, and asking central Moldova's government to recognise these states.[215]

 Netherlands Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen expressed on behalf of the cabinet his "great concern" about the Russian position and said that "for the Netherlands, the territorial integrity of Georgia within the internationally recognised borders, also earlier recognised by Russia, remains the basis for a solution to this crisis. The one-sided recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia by Russia does not bring this solution nearer".[216]
 Norway Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre said that "Norway emphasises the use of peaceful means in the efforts to settle conflicts in Europe, based on the UN's assumption of respect for territorial integrity. A recognition of the breakaway Georgian regions are in breach of these assumptions. And it is not a constructive contribution to a long range and peaceful solution to the conflict".[217]
 Panama Ricardo Alberto Arias, Panama's UN ambassador stated his nation's continuing support for the territorial integrity of Georgia in a Security Council meeting on 28 August 2008.[181]
 Peru Ollanta Humala, leader of the Peruvian Nationalist Party, said his party had submitted a proposal to the Peruvian Congress for recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He cited Peru's recognition of Kosovo as a justification.[218]
 Poland Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski called for respect for Georgia's territorial integrity.[219] The President of Poland Lech Kaczyński said that the Russian decision violates international law and is an attempt to sanction the consequences of an "unprecedented aggression" by Russia against an independent Georgian state. Kaczyński urged Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to "immediately withdraw all Russian troops from Georgia" and pledged his country's "unwavering support" for the Georgian people.[220]
 Portugal The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying that "The respect for the sovereignty of the Georgia inside of its internationally recognised borders has been permanently underlined for United Nations, the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe".[221]
 Romania The Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that "This unilateral, regrettable and legally unfounded act can affect the situation in the area, as well as the perspectives of solving the region's conflicts. As an EU and NATO member, Romania will plead inside the international organisations it belongs to, as well as in bilateral relationships with the countries in the region for a solution that will respect the territorial integrity of Georgia".[222]
 San Marino The San Marino authorities are planning to establish political, cultural and scientific contacts with Abkhazia.[223] In April 2012, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Political Affairs, Antonella Mularoni, said that the San Marino government will continue to respect Georgia's territorial boundaries and will not recognize Abkhazia.[224]
 Saudi Arabia During a meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the Secretary of the Saudi National Security Council, Bandar bin Sultan, told that King Abdullah and the whole leadership of the country had full understanding for the actions of the Russian side in South Ossetia.[225]
 Serbia The Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying that they respected the "territorial integrity of internationally recognized states" but that the declaration of independence by the Republic of Kosovo and its subsequent international recognition has had a destabilising effect by setting a precedent for similar declarations by other regions.[226] On 3 September 2008, President Boris Tadić stated the position of Serbia as "Serbia is not going to recognise these so-called new countries."[227] In May 2012, the Serbian Parliament was to consider formal recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.[228]
 Slovakia A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Slovakia "disapproves of these steps and confirms the main principles, based on the long-standing position of the Slovak Republic regarding Georgia and the solution of conflicts on its territory. These principles are: sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders and solution of the conflicts exclusively by peaceful means and talks in compliance with the international law". The statement also said that "the Slovak government, as one of few EU member states, can insist on the principle of the territorial integrity of Georgia, as it has done also in the case of Serbia and Kosovo".[229]
 Slovenia Prime Minister Janez Janša said "We are united on the need to ensure peace, stability, territorial integrity in Georgia and the broader region and to give the region a European perspective" after a meeting with Czech and Latvian counterparts Mirek Topolánek and Ivars Godmanis.[230]
 Somalia Somalia’s External Affairs and International Co-operation ministry said on 5 October 2008 in Mogadishu that Somalia recognises the territorial integrity of Georgia.[231] Somalia’s ambassador to Russia Mohammed Mahmud Handule on 1 October 2008 was reported as saying Somalia's Transitional Federal Government would recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.[232][233][234] This stance was rebuffed by Mohamed Jama Ali, the General Director of the External Affairs and International Co-operation ministry (Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs ) as "an irregular statement"," which does not represent our government’s foreign policy".[231][235]
 South Africa Dumisani Kumalo, the Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, said that his country "had repeatedly stressed the need for countries to resolve differences through negotiations. A resort to the use of force diminished the chance for a lasting solution to a situation and it increased the suffering of all the people involved".[181]
 South Korea Aligning itself with Russia, South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak signed a joint declaration with Russia which stated that the two countries shared "a common assessment of Georgia's invasion of South Ossetia." South Korea also coincided with Russia in expressing "concern over the recent situation in Georgia" and support for "using peaceful means and dialogue to settle the problem." [236]
 Spain Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos said that the government of Spain regrets the decision of Russia. He also said that this decision by Moscow is "unacceptable" and "not conducive to creating the conditions necessary for settlement of the conflict between Russia and Georgia". Moratinos reiterated the "need to fully respect the principles of international law, in particular the territorial integrity of states, in this case, of Georgia." In addition, he recalled that this is the stance that "Spain has always maintained", an allusion to the opposition of the Spanish government to recognition of the Kosovo independence.[237]
 Sudan On 28 August Sudan's envoy to the UN, Abdel-Haleem Abdel-Mahmood, stated that Sudan's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is contingent upon developments on the issue of Kosovo's declaration of independence in the International Court of Justice. As Sudan remains opposed to Kosovo's independence, their negative view about such declarations may change only if it is declared legal by the ICJ.[238]
 Sweden Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt condemned Russia's recognition, saying that "the Russian government leadership now has chosen this route means they have chosen a policy of confrontation, not only with the rest of Europe, but also with the international community in general".[239][240] Carl Bildt predicted that the recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia is likely to be followed by only a "miserable" lot of other countries, such as Belarus, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela. Bildt also said that "South Ossetian independence is a joke. We are talking about a smugglers' paradise of 60,000 people financed by the Russian security services. No one can seriously consider that as an independent state".[241]
In December 2009, Carl Bildt said that "this idea of South Ossetia's independence is increasingly seen as bad joke in Moscow, which it obviously is."[242]
  Switzerland The government of Switzerland called for a political solution to the conflict in Georgia in accord with international principles: Both Georgia's right to sovereignty and the democratic will of the people in South Ossetia and Abkhazia have to be respected. A government spokesman also stated "Switzerland regrets that a solution has not yet been found that meets the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Accords and the Charter of Paris. The Swiss government has not yet discussed the issue of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It also did not mention the territorial integrity in the context of Georgia.[243][244][245]
 Syria Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused the United States of applying "double standards" toward Abkhazia and South Ossetia, stating that the West "is ignoring for some reason the rights of the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia." Assad also added, "In a situation when Georgia started the war, the position of Russia... was absolutely right."[246] Syria's president also stated that Syria understands the essence of the Russian position and considers its military reaction a response, to provocation by the Georgian side.[247] In 2015, the Abkhaz Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Chirikba met the Syrian Ambassador to Russia, Riad Haddad, in Moscow and the two diplomats discussed bilateral relations. Chirikba said afterwards that "there was great interest by both parties to strengthening and deepening Syrian-Abkhaz relations. Will this lead in the end to Syria’s recognition of Abkhazia [independence]? I think anything’s possible, but this of course is the sovereign decision of the Syrian side."[248]
 Tajikistan The Moscow Times reports that the President of Tajikistan, Emomalii Rahmon, expressed his support for Russia's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, stating, "Our countries are natural strategic partners... which envisions... support for each other's actions."[249] He also stated, that Russia and Georgia should solve their conflict through political and diplomatic means.[250]
 Turkey A Foreign Ministry statement on 26 August 2008 declared that "Turkey attaches importance to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and is highly concerned about the recent developments. Turkey is of the opinion that this conflict should be resolved through peaceful means".[251]
 Ukraine Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Grigoriy Nemirya stated that Kiev took an unchangeable and principal position to support Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty.[252] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement calling the recognition a "gross violation of norms and principles of the international law, bilateral and multilateral agreements, in particular the United Nations Charter and Helsinki Accords. Actual annexation of part of Georgian territory through creation and support of the puppet regimes certifies a reanimation of doctrine of 'right of force' in the Russian Federation for solving of international problems. Ukraine categorically reprobates an adventurous decision of Russia to recognise the self-declared independence and calls for international community to combine efforts in relation to absolute confirmation and observance of territorial integrity of Georgia and implementation of the undertaken international obligations of Russia". It also said that the Commonwealth of Independent States are bound to respect the territorial integrity of other CIS states, in this case Georgia.[253] The Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Arseniy Yatsenyuk said "only the United Nations can rule on this question. This is factually a violation of international law".
President Viktor Yushchenko stressed that Ukraine does not support the decision of Russia to recognise the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. "We are sorry about [the] adoption of such a decision. For Ukraine it is unacceptable therefore we cannot support the position."[254]
However, the parliament of Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea passed a resolution, supporting independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, backing Russia's actions in the regions, and urging the Ukrainian parliament to "accept" the independence of these states.[255][256][257] A similar Party of Regions resolution in the Ukrainian parliament denouncing Georgia and calling upon Ukraine to recognize the independence of both territories failed.[258]

In October 2009, Ukrainian Ambassador to Russia Kostyantyn Gryshchenko said that "We must not recognize neither Kosovo nor Abkhazia, nor South Ossetia in no case".[259]
In March 2010, President Viktor Yanukovych said that the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia was "not currently on the agenda."[260] This was confirmed by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Kostyantyn Gryshchenko on 14 May 2010: "An issue of territorial integrity and inviolability of frontiers is a matter of principle for us. Period".[261]
On 4 June 2010, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych said, "I have never recognized Abkhazia, South Ossetia or Kosovo's independence. This is a violation of international law".[262]

 United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband accused Russian President Dmitry Medvedev of "inflaming" the crisis. He said that "the announcement by President Medvedev that Russia will recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia is unjustifiable and unacceptable. It will also not work. It is contrary to the principles of the peace agreement, which Russia recently agreed, and to recent Russian statements. It takes no account of the views of the hundreds of thousands of Georgians and others who have been forced to abandon their homes in the two territories. We fully support Georgia's independence and territorial integrity, which cannot be changed by decree from Moscow." He called on Russia to "abide by international law as the basis for resolving this crisis" and stated that he will assemble the "widest possible coalition against Russian aggression".[263] British Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged the EU to review ties with Russia and that the group must intensify its support for Georgia and others who may face Russian aggression. Brown said the G7 should consider meeting more regularly, thus excluding Russia, which belongs to the G8. Brown commenting on the conflict in Georgia and Russia's recognition of the two breakaway regions said "My message to Russia is simple: if you want to be welcome at the top table of organisations such as the G8, OECD and WTO, you must accept that with rights and responsibilities". Brown said that Russia "cannot pick and choose which rules to adhere to."[264]
 United States President George W. Bush condemned the actions taken by Russia and called on them to "reconsider this irresponsible decision." Bush then stated that in "accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions that remain in force, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are within the internationally recognised borders of Georgia, and they must remain so."[265] Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also said the decision made by Russia was "regrettable" and further stated that since "the United States is a permanent member of the Security Council this simply will be dead on arrival in the Security Council."[266] United States President George W. Bush acknowledged the ceasefire accord brokered by the French President and President of the European Council, Nicolas Sarkozy. The accord was signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on 12 August 2008[267] and by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on 15 August 2008.[268] President Bush stated that he would send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Tbilisi in order to "convey America's unwavering support for Georgia's democratic government."[269] He also called upon Russia to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia.[269] The Russian government welcomed the support expressed by President Bush for the ceasefire accords but stated "[i]t is regrettable, however, that the American side continues to refuse to recognise the real cause of what happened, consisting in that the regime of Mikhail Saakashvili had in violation of all its international commitments unleashed the war against the South Ossetian people."[270] United States Vice President Dick Cheney traveled to Georgia on 4 September 2008 to reassure Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili of the United States' "commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity."[271] Vice President Dick Cheney went on to denounce Russia's actions calling them "an illegitimate, unilateral attempt to change [Georgia's] borders by force that has been universally condemned by the free world"[271] and pledged that Georgia would become a member of NATO.[272] United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that "Russia’s behavior over the past week has called into question the entire premise of that dialogue and has profound implications for our security relationship going forward, both bilaterally and with NATO."[273] He further went on to say that if "Russia does not step back from its aggressive posture and actions in Georgia, the U.S.-Russian relationship could be adversely affected for years to come."[273]
In October 2009, State Secretary Hillary Clinton said that the United States would not recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.[274]
 Uzbekistan Vladimir Norov, the foreign minister of Uzbekistan, said following a regular session of the Uzbekistan-EU Cooperation Council in Brussels that his country has not reached a decision on recognition.[275]
 Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Le Dung reiterated that Vietnam's "consistent policy is to promote peaceful resolution of international disputes in accordance with basic principles of international law and the United Nations Charter".[276]

Other states

State Position
 Kosovo President of Kosovo Fatmir Sejdiu said that Kosovo cannot serve as an example for Russia to recognise South Ossetia or Abkhazia. He said, "We have always stressed that Kosovo has special characteristics; that it is sui generis and it cannot be used as a precedent for other conflict zones, areas or regions". He did not comment on Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but said that Kosovo was "on the side of great world powers" on that issue.[277]
 Northern Cyprus President of Northern Cyprus Mehmet Ali Talat said he respected the will of the people in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. A spokesman for Talat called for Moscow to review its policy on Cyprus and said there were lessons in the developments for the Greek Cypriots.[278]
 Republic of China Head of Republic of China's representative office in Russia Antonio Chen said on 10 November 2011 in an interview published in the Kommersant newspaper: "Taiwan is ready for trade-economic and cultural cooperation with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But as far as their political recognition is concerned, a mutual exchange of opinions on this issue has not been held yet".[279]

Positions taken by intergovernmental organisations

Under international law, intergovernmental organisations do not themselves possess the legal capacity to recognise any state diplomatically; their member states do so individually. However, depending on the intergovernmental organisation's rules of internal governance and the positions of their member states, they may express positive or negative opinions as to declarations of independence, or choose to offer or withhold membership to a newly declared state.

International organisation Position
 United Nations In August 2008, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that "the question of recognition of states is a matter for sovereign states to decide. Today's developments may have wider implications for security and stability in the Caucasus. The secretary-general regrets that ongoing efforts to find a common solution on the way forward in the crisis in Georgia within the Security Council may be complicated".[280] Michele Montas, a spokesperson for UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, denied comparisons of Kosovo with the two regions and said, "I think that you should compare the two situations. The history of the two situations is different and this has been stressed several times".[281]

President of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, said that having invaded South Ossetia Georgia made an act of aggression and violated the UN Charter. Also he stated that Russia’s actions against Georgia after an attack on South Ossetia were a justified response.[282][283]

Collective Security Treaty Organisation On 3 September, The CSTO member countries supported Russia's stance on the events in the Caucasus in a collective statement. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, "It [the statement] denounces the military actions taken by Georgia against South Ossetia and stresses the necessity to avoid such situations in the future. The statement highlights the key points, has all the necessary verifications, including condemnation of Georgia's military actions against South Ossetia. It stresses the need to do the best in order not to admit similar attempts at using force for solving conflicts and evaluates events in the conflict zone. It condemns the policy of double standards and admits the dangers in the conflict zone."[284] The member states also backed a Russian proposal to impose an arms embargo on Georgia.[285]

Armenian Foreign Minister Edvard Nalbandyan said, citing the joint statement: "We have come out with support for Russia's active role in contributing to peace and cooperation in the region."[285] However the CSTO (ODKB) did not recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states as, according to Medvedev, the member states will individually decide whether to recognise taking into account their own national interests.[286][287]

Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha stated at a press conference in Yerevan that the present situation is "driving Abkhazia and South Ossetia into the collective security system",[288] and further stated his belief that "South Ossetia and Abkhazia can not successfully and steadily develop without [being part of] a collective security system, without the backing of other states."[289]

Europe Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis said "The unilateral recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by the Russian Federation violates the territorial integrity of a fellow Council of Europe member state. It jeopardises prospects for a negotiated settlement of the dispute about the future status of these two regions. Russia cannot have it both ways. In the past, Russia has strongly supported the principle of territorial integrity. The decision to recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia must strike any objective observer as being inconsistent with this principle. The ultimate victim of this decision is the international credibility of the Russian Federation. The Russians cannot invoke international law only when they feel like it".[192]
 European Union The EU leaders held an emergency summit on 1 September 2008, "strongly condemned" Russia's unilateral decision and recalled "that a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict in Georgia must be based on full respect for the principles of independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity recognised by international law, the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and United Nations Security Council resolutions." They also called on other states not to recognise this proclaimed independence and asked the European Commission to examine the practical consequences to be drawn.[290] Swedish Foreign Secretary and Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Carl Bildt, said in a statement that the Russian position is "certainly just as unacceptable" as Nazi Germany "defending its rights" in Sudetenland in 1938. Minister-Counsellor and Acting Head of Mission of the Russian embassy in Stockholm, Mikhail Skupov, condemned this statement as "not objective and unfortunate" and wished Sweden had a more objective and "constructive" stance, since Russia "has not annexed anything".[291][292][293]

The EU's executive arm, the European Commission, issued a statement stating it "fully shares and supports" the EU French presidency's statement on the Russian act on Tuesday (26 August 2012).[294]

French and UK foreign ministers have voiced fears that Russia may be planning scenarios similar to those that occurred in Georgia in countries traditionally regarded by Russia as being in its sphere of influence,[295] directly bordering the EU, such as Moldova and Ukraine. Their fears are prompted by rising tension between Ukraine and Russia, and fresh calls for independence from Moldova by separatists in the breakaway region of Transnistria.[296] Sergei Lavrov stated "I think it's a manifestation of the complete embarrassment at the fact that the favourite pet of Western capitals... didn't justify their hopes" and said that comments from Bernard Kouchner suggesting Russia has plans for Moldova and Ukraine, is a "sick fantasy".[297]

G7 On 27 August 2008, the seven foreign ministers of the G7 member states – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom – issued a Joint Statement on Georgia, condemning the action of a fellow G8 member. The statement said, "Russia’s decision has called into question its commitment to peace and security in the Caucasus."[298] The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded stating that the statement justified Georgia's aggression and dismissed claims that Russia violated the territorial integrity of Georgia. Furthermore, the Ministry stated that Russia has complied with the Sarkozy-Medvedev peace plan and that Russian actions have prevented further destabilisation in the Caucasus region.[299][300]
 NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said "this is in direct violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions regarding Georgia's territorial integrity, resolutions that Russia itself has endorsed. Russia's actions in recent weeks call into question Russia's commitment to peace and security in the Caucasus. NATO firmly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and calls on Russia to respect these principles".[194]
In December 2009, following NATO summit it was announced that NATO member states will not recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia and called on Russia to reverse its decision.[301]
Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said "the recognition of independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia violates fundamental OSCE principles. As all OSCE participating States, Russia is committed to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of others".[302]

On 9 July 2012, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly passed a resolution at its annual session in Monaco, underlining Georgia’s territorial integrity and referring to breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia as “occupied territories”. The resolution “urges the Government and the Parliament of the Russian Federation, as well as the de facto authorities of Abkhazia, Georgia and South Ossetia, Georgia, to allow the European Union Monitoring Mission unimpeded access to the occupied territories.” It also says that the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is “concerned about the humanitarian situation of the displaced persons both in Georgia and in the occupied territories of Abkhazia, Georgia and South Ossetia, Georgia, as well as the denial of the right of return to their places of living.” The Assembly is the parliamentary dimension of the OSCE with 320 lawmakers from the organization’s 56 participating states, including Russia.[303]

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation According to different sources it seems disputed that Russia has gained global support from the member states in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). The Hindu reported that Russia has gained crucial support from the People's Republic of China and other member states in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.[304] Xinhua News Agency reported that a joint declaration was issued at 28 August 2008 SCO Dushanbe summit and signed by the leaders of all six full members, most notably Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The communique denounces force as a means to solve international problems, expressed concern over the tense situation, and called upon all parties to solve the ongoing South Ossetia conflict through peaceful dialogue. The heads have agreed to the six-point plan which was established in Moscow (12 August) and have expressed support to Russia.[305] Western sources added that the SCO called for respect for every country's territorial integrity,[306] stating, "The participants [of the SCO summit] underscore the need for respect of the historical and cultural traditions of each country and each people, for efforts aimed at the preservation, under international law, of the unity of a state and its territorial integrity".[307] On 29 August 2008, Western and some Russian sources confirmed that the SCO Group "refused to back Moscow in its conflict with Georgia, and to support Moscow’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia".[308][309][310][311]
Union of Russia and Belarus On 4 August 2008 Pavel Borodin, State Secretary of the Union of Russia and Belarus, told the radio station Ekho Moskvy that he supported Russia and that South Ossetia and Abkhazia could be accepted into the Union before the end of 2008.[312]

Positions taken by non-state actors

Regions with independent governments

Entity Position
Hamas (government in Gaza Strip) On 26 August 2008 a spokesman for the Palestinian group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, welcomed the diplomatic recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He said that there were similarities between the situations of the Abkhazian, South Ossetian peoples, and the Palestinian people. The spokesman said, "We, Palestinians, also struggle to attain recognition for our rights, the main of which is the right to be an independent state. We hope that the decision of Moscow becomes the beginning of recognition of peoples which combat for freedom and justice".[313][314][315]
 Luhansk People's Republic After receiving diplomatic recognition from South Ossetia in 2014, the Luhansk People's Republic reciprocated recognition on 28 January 2015.[316]
In April 2015, South Ossetia opened the first foreign embassy in Luhansk.[317]
 Donetsk People's Republic After receiving South Ossetian recognition in 2014, the Donetsk People's Republic reciprocated recognition and also recognized Abkhazia on 13 May 2015.[318]

International non-governmental organisations

International organisation Position
Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) The Hague-based Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, whose members comprise 69 entities seeking self-determination and representation, of which Abkhazia (but not South Ossetia) is one, issued a statement on 29 August 2008 in which it "congratulates Abkhazia, for her calls for self-determination have been formally taken into consideration. With Abkhazia’s right to self-determination acknowledged starts a long and slow process which can eventually lead to the admittance of Abkhazia to the United Nations".[319]
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Neither Abkhazia nor South Ossetia is currently a member of the governing structures for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Independently of their ISO membership status, ISO will also potentially issue a standardised country code for each. According to rules of procedure followed by the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency based in Geneva, a new ISO 3166-1 code for Abkhazia and/or South Ossetia will only be issued once it appears in the United Nations Terminology Bulletin Country Names or in the UN Statistics Division's list of Country and Region Codes for Statistical Use.[320] To appear in the terminology bulletin, it must either (a) be admitted into the United Nations, (b) join a UN Specialised Agency or (c) become a state party to the Statute of the International Court of Justice.[321] None of these criteria have been met.

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) ICANN, through its Country Code Names Supporting Organization, is responsible for adding new country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) for use in Internet addressing. Rules of procedure dictate Abkhazia and/or South Ossetia must first receive an ISO 3166-1 code (discussed above) before the ccTLD can be introduced.[322]

See also

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Wikimedia Commons has media related to International recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.


  1. 1 2 3 It is unclear whether there is a date on which Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria officially recognised each other or whether they have always done so, and when they established diplomatic relations. Abkhazia and Transnistria signed a Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation on 22 January 1993, South Ossetia and Transnistria a Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation on 12 October 1994 and Abkhazia and South Ossetia a Treaty on Friendship and Cooperation on 19 September 2005.


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