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Russia surprised by NATO reaction to Abkhazia, S.Ossetia deals

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The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it was surprised by NATO's reaction to new border security agreements concluded between Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
MOSCOW, April 30 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it was surprised by NATO's reaction to new border security agreements concluded between Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russia signed earlier on Thursday joint border-protection agreements with the two former Georgian republics. NATO said the documents were in a breach with earlier reached agreements and "not in the interests of long-term peace and security in the South Caucasus region."

"It is a surprising point to make as Russia has not signed any truce agreements with anyone in that region," spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

According to Nesterenko, the new agreements, on the contrary, "are designed to strengthen security and stability in the region, and do not interfere with the current search for acceptable formats of international presence [in the region]."

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.

Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states after last August's 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.

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