MOSCOW — Russia tightened its control Wednesday over a second breakaway region of Georgia, with President Vladimir Putin and the leader of South Ossetia signing a new treaty that calls for nearly full integration.
South Ossetia broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s, and Russia effectively gained complete control over it and a second breakaway region, Abkhazia, after a brief war against Georgia in 2008.
Under the agreement signed in the Kremlin, South Ossetia's military and economy are to be incorporated into Russia's. The treaty also promises to make it easier for South Ossetians to get Russian citizenship, and to raise salaries for civil servants and state pensions.
A similar treaty was signed last year with Abkhazia.
Both regions depend on subsidies from Russia, and the signing of the two integration agreements was accompanied by promises to boost that funding.
Georgia has denounced the agreements, saying they jeopardize efforts to normalize relations with Russia.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry called Wednesday's signing ceremony an "intentional provocation," since it coincided with the latest round of talks in Geneva aimed at finding a diplomatic solution to the dispute.
Wednesday also was the one-year anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea, emphasizing Russia's expansion of its presence in the Black Sea region.
While Abkhazia is a lush sliver of land along the coast, South Ossetia sticks like a thumb into northern Georgia.
The 2008 war began after Georgia attempted to restore control over South Ossetia. But the Russian military routed the Georgian forces in five days and Moscow recognized both breakaway regions as independent states.