President Dmitry Medvedev says Russia has
recognized the independence of the breakaway Georgian territories
of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
      Medvedev 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.
      Tuesday'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.