Moscow (AP) Russia has recognized the independence of the breakaway Georgian territories of south Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Russia's president said in a televised address that he has signed a decree on the decision. Few other nations are likely to follow the move. But it will further escalate tensions between Moscow and the west.
Today's declaration comes as Russian forces remain in Georgia. They are staking out positions beyond the de-facto borders of the separatist regions. Abkhazia and South Ossetia have effectively ruled themselves following wars in the 1990s.
Russia's military presence seems likely to further weaken Georgia, a western ally in the Caucasus region.