Tbilisi: Georgia on Wednesday warned Russia against taking further steps to integrate its separatist region of Abkhazia, saying it would create new security problems in Europe.
Tbilisi issued a tough-worded statement after the leader of the rebel region on Monday submitted a draft agreement to its local parliament that would dramatically strengthen ties between Moscow and the Kremlin-backed statelet.
The agreement on "alliance and integration" would create a "common defence infrastructure" and combined armed forces between Abkhazia and Russia, which already has thousands of troops stationed in the region.
It also calls for the creation of joint law enforcement structures and "common economic and customs space," among other sweeping proposals aimed at deepening the political and economic integration between Russia and Abkhazia.
The implementation of the deal would substantially change the situation in the region and "will create additional problems" for the European security, Georgia`s foreign ministry said.
"We hope that the Russian authorities will refrain from signing this so-called agreement, otherwise it will be considered as a step towards annexation of Abkhazia with subsequent legal consequences," it added in a statement.
Russia is already at loggerheads with the West after its annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March and its support for separatist fighters in the former Soviet country`s eastern belt.
A lush sun-drenched coastal strip of land wedged between the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains, Abkhazia broke away from Georgia after a civil war in the 1990s after the break-up of the Soviet Union.
It is home to some 240,000 people and is heavily dependent on Russian aid.
Moscow officially recognised the independence of Abkhazia and another separatist region of South Ossetia after fighting a five-day war with Georgia in August 2008.
After the war Moscow has stationed thousands of troops in the two separatist regions in a move condemned by Tbilisi and its Western allies as an illegal occupation.
The conflict between Abkhazia and Georgia in the 1990s killed several thousand people and forced some 250,000, mostly ethnic Georgians, out of the separatist region.