MOSCOW, March 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday instructed the Defense Ministry to hold talks with South Ossetia on signing an agreement on a Russian military base in the former Georgian republic.
A similar agreement was signed in Moscow on February 17 with Abkhazia, another former Georgian republic.
The agreement was concluded during Kremlin talks between President Medvedev and his Abkhazian counterpart, Sergei Bagapsh, who arrived in Moscow on his first visit since his reelection as president of the tiny region on the Black Sea.
According to the agreement, the base will "protect Abkhazia's sovereignty and security, including against international terrorist groups."
The agreement with Abkhazia was signed for a period of 49 years with the option of its extension by 15-year periods, despite fierce criticism from Tbilisi and Western nations.
Moscow recognized the independence of the two former Georgian republics in August 2008 after a five-day war to repel an assault by U.S. ally Georgia on South Ossetia.
Georgia has fiercely criticized the plans for the bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which it considers part of its territory.
Russia's military buildup in the region since the armed conflict has also been condemned by the West as running counter to international law and contravening the internationally brokered ceasefire agreement signed by Russia and Georgia in the wake of their August 2008 conflict.
However, Medvedev said after signing an agreement on the military base with Abkhazia that the deal and a host of other agreements signed in the Kremlin were in line with Russia's international commitments.