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Georgia notifies CIS of withdrawal from air defense agreement

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Georgia's Foreign Ministry has announced its withdrawal from a 1995 CIS unified air defense agreement signed by a number of former Soviet republics, including Russia.
TBILISI, May 14 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia's Foreign Ministry has announced its withdrawal from a 1995 CIS unified air defense agreement signed by a number of former Soviet republics, including Russia.

Tbilisi officially notified the Foreign Ministry of Belarus, as the depository of the document, of its decision on Wednesday. Georgia will cease to comply with the agreement 12 months after Belarus receives the notification.

The CIS is an alliance of former Soviet republics and the unified air defense system includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.

The Georgian ministry officially notified Russia on May 5 that it would withdraw from a bilateral air defense agreement of April 19, 1995. A Georgian deputy defense minister said earlier his country saw no practical benefit from the treaty with Moscow.

The move came amid rising military tensions between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia has said that Georgia is planning a military operation in the republics, while the international community has expressed concern over Russia's buildup of peacekeeping troops in the disputed areas.

Georgia had previously withdrawn from the CIS Defense Ministers Council, although it formally remained in the CIS unified air defense system.

According to Russian military experts, Georgia's withdrawal will not disrupt the operation of the unified air defense system, as Georgia is not a key chain in the missile defense security system.

Political analysts however noted a political element to Tbilisi's withdrawal from the agreement as Georgia continues its efforts to move closer to NATO and away from the CIS.

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