TBILISI, Georgia - Georgia said today it will recall all diplomatic staff from its embassy in Moscow to protest the presence of Russian troops on its territory. Russia criticized the move, saying it will not benefit relations between the countries.
Georgia's parliament had urged the government to sever diplomatic ties, calling Russia an "aggressor country." Georgian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nato Chikovani said Georgia will withdraw its staff on Saturday.
Russian news agencies have cited Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko as criticizing the move, saying it will not benefit bilateral relations.
Also today, an official from Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia said that Russia intends to eventually absorb the region. The development came three days after Moscow recognized South Ossetia as independent, drawing criticism from the West.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the region's leader, Eduard Kokoity, discussed the future of South Ossetia earlier this week in Moscow, South Ossetian parliamentary speaker Znaur Gassiyev said.
Russia will absorb South Ossetia "in several years" or earlier, a position was "firmly stated by both leaders," Gassiyev said in Tskhinvali, the provincial capital.
In Moscow, a Kremlin spokeswoman said Friday there was "no official information" on the talks.
A Georgian lawmaker said his country will eventually regain control of South Ossetia and another rebel region, Abkhazia.
"The separatist regimes of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the Russian authorities are cut off from reality," Gigi Tsereteli said in Tbilisi. "The world has already become different and Russia will not long be able to occupy sovereign Georgian territory.
"The regimes of Abkhazia and South Ossetia should think about the fact that if they become part of Russia, they will be assimilated and in this way they will disappear," he added.