[JURIST] The Russian State Duma [official website, in Russian], the country's lower house of parliament, on Wednesday unanimously approved military defense agreements [JURIST report] signed with Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia [JURIST news archive] last month. The so-called Treaties on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance allow Russia to offer military assistance and provide for the 3,800 Russian troops to be deployed to each region. After the signing, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev [official website] defended [statement text] the use of Russian troops in the regions to help "remove threats to peace" as proper under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter [text]. The treaties also establish joint cooperation on issues including citizenship and border control, criminal investigations, humanitarian aid, and infrastructure [RIA Novosti report]. The agreements now must be approved by the Federation Council of Russia [official website, in Russian], the country's upper house. If approved, the treaties will last for ten years, with automatic renewal if no objections are submitted. AP has more. From Russia, Kommersant has local coverage.
The treaties have received heavy international criticism and have made Russia one of only two countries in the world to recognize the regions' independence, along with Nicaragua. Georgia's National Security Council [official website] secretary Alexander Lomaia decried the agreements, saying that they were effectively an illegal attempt to annex the regions. The US and the European Union have also criticized the deal, and spokespersons for NATO previously denounced Russia's decision to recognize the teritories [JURIST report] as violative of international law.