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SUKHUM, December 22. /TASS/. Border security guarantees and international recognition are core goals in a new strategic partnership between Russia and Abkhazia, ratified by parliament in Russia's neighboring south Caucasus republic on Monday.
The new treaty builds safeguards along the republic's border with Georgia, from which it sought independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and proposes to form a united military force with Russia within a year to counter any external threat.
Lawmakers' approval gives force to treaty terms agreed by the two states in Sochi, on Russia's Black Sea coast, at the end of November.
Russia pledges to promote "in all possible ways, stronger international ties with Abkhazia, including a broader list of countries which recognize it officially and pave the way for Abkhazia’s accession to international organizations and associations, including those founded at the initiative and/or with Russia’s assistance.”
Armed attack by any country or a group of countries “will be taken as an act of aggression," the document says, looking to what it calls technical engineering over the next two years to secure the two signatories' territorial boundaries.
The treaty aims to shape common defense and security structures, and to set up a coordinating police center to share operational intelligence.
In Abkhazia's bid for independence, strained relations with Georgia peaked in the 1990s, leading to armed clashes that killed about 20,000 people. In 1994, Abkhazia adopted its own constitution and declared independence from Georgia. A referendum in 1999 supported the republic’s statehood, but the international community still maintains that Abkhazia and regional neighbor South Ossetia are part of Georgia.