Russia's territorial conflict with Ukraine has grabbed much more media attention in recent years but the country's presence in, and support of, breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia continues to plague the nation, the Georgian prime minister told CNBC on Tuesday.
"Unfortunately, Russia continues to occupy 20 percent of our territory and the answer from our side, to this most painful challenge that we have in Georgia, is the consolidation of our democracy and sustainable and rapid economic growth," Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its role in a pro-Russian uprising in 2014 caused international uproar and sanctions to be placed on Russia, but it wasn't the first time that Russia has supported uprisings in neighboring ex-Soviet republics.
In 2008, Russia supported the self-proclaimed republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia (disputed regions since the break up of the Soviet Union) prompting a short-lived, five-day war between Russia and Georgia that resulted in a Russian-led military victory.
An independent report into the conflict (commissioned by the EU) found that Georgia was to blame for starting the war after an indiscriminate assault on the city of Tskhinvali in South Ossetia, however, although it said Russia's military response went beyond reasonable limits and violated international law.
Today, Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain disputed territories in the South Caucasus region, along with Nagorno-Karabakh. Georgia and most of the international community do not recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia's independence; Georgia says the breakaway regions are sovereign territory is under Russian military occupation.