Russian parliament OKs joint military command for Russia, neighboring breakaway region

The Russian parliament has ratified an agreement with Abkhazia, tightening its grip on the breakaway region of Georgia.

The State Duma voted overwhelmingly on Friday to give the green light to the agreement which puts Russian and Abkhazian forces under joint command and sanctions the joint patrolling of the border

Russian troops have been stationed in Abkhazia, a Georgian republic on the Black Sea, since Russia recognized its independence following a 2008 war with Georgia.

The agreement that President Vladimir Putin signed with the leader of Abkhazia in November formalizes Moscow's control over this stretch of the Black Sea.

Georgia has denounced the plans for such an agreement as a step toward annexation, warning that it will jeopardize efforts to normalize relations with Russia.