THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- NATO has denounced a partnership agreement Russia signed Monday with Abkhazia, a breakaway region of Georgia, as a violation of Georgia's sovereignty.
According to the agreement, Russia would have expanded military authority over Abkhazia, with Russia funding military modernizations and the establishment of a joint army. Russia and Abkhazia pledged pledged mutual protection. Economically, Russia agreed to double its aid to Abkhezia's education and healthcare sectors.
Georgia characterized the agreement as tantamount to Russian "de facto annexation" of Abkhazia. Relations between Georgia and Russia have been tense since the two sides fought over the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008.
"This so-called treaty does not contribute to a peaceful and lasting settlement of the situation in Georgia," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. "On the contrary, it violates Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity and blatantly contradicts the principles of international law, OSCE principles and Russia's international commitments."
Stoltenberg called on Moscow "to reverse its recognition of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia as independent states and to withdraw its forces from Georgia."