The leader of Georgia's Moscow-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia said Wednesday that his territory will ask to be recognized as part of Russia.
"We intend to shortly lodge a petition with the Russian Constitutional Court because there are historical documents about Ossetia's status as part of Russia," Eduard Kokoity said in comments shown on Russian state television.
Speaking on a visit to North Ossetia, which is a Russian region, he said that Ossetia as a whole had historically been part of Russia since the 18th century.
South Ossetia has run its own affairs since breaking away from Georgian control in an 18-month war that ended in 1992. South Ossetia and another separatist province, Abkhazia, have close ties with Moscow, which has granted Russian citizenship to many of their residents.
Georgia's pro-Western leadership repeatedly has accused Russian peacekeepers, deployed to both provinces since the early 1990s, of siding with separatists, and has vowed to bring the two breakaway regions back under central government control, reports AP.