Russia's 'Buffer Zone' Includes Georgia Territory
Moscow moves closer to recognizing breakaway enclaves
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2008 3:41 PM CDT
Russian soldiers block the highway near Igoeti, northwest of the capital Tbilisi, Georgia, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008.   (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
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(Newser) – Russia may soon officially recognize the sovereignty of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, lawmakers said today, even as the military moved to establish so-called buffer zones that include Georgian territory, the Wall Street Journal reports. Then-president Vladimir Putin used the move to recognize the secessionist republics to criticize countries which did the same for Kosovo in February, saying Russia wouldn’t “ape” the West.

The buffer zone will include eight military bases on Georgian soil outside of South Ossetia, a move Georgia’s deputy defense minister slammed as “totally illegal and illegitimate.” Russia plans to keep about 3,000 troops in each breakaway republic—with about 15,000 spread across Georgia now.