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Russia signs deals with Abkhazia, S.Ossetia on border protection - 2

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Russia signed on Thursday joint border protection agreements with the former Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
(Recasts, adds details in para 4, NATO response in paras 6-7)

MOSCOW, April 30 (RIA Novosti) - Russia signed on Thursday joint border protection agreements with the former Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The agreements were signed in the Kremlin by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Abkhazian President Sergei Bagapsh, and South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity.

Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states after the five-day war with Georgia, which attacked South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control. Most residents of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia had held Russian citizenship for several years.

Under the agreements, Russia will guard the Abkhaz and South Ossetian borders, including maritime frontiers, until both republics form their own border guard services. The agreements, for an initial five years, can be renewed upon their expiration.

The sides also signed interdepartmental agreements on cooperation between the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the Abkhaz State Security Service and the South Ossetian Committee of State Security.

NATO considers the agreements signed by Russia and the two republics to be a breach in earlier reached agreements, Reuters reported on Thursday.

"This [signing of the pacts] is in clear contravention of the 12th August and 8th September agreements negotiated by the European Union and is not in the interests of long-term peace and security in the South Caucasus region," Reuters quoted a NATO spokesman as saying.

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