(Reuters) -The deputy chair of the Russian security council Dmitry Medvedev said Moscow may annex Georgia's breakaway regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
"The idea of joining Russia is still popular in Abkhazia and South Ossetia," Medvedev, a former Russian president, wrote in an article published early on Wednesday by Argumenty I Fakty newspaper.
"It could quite possibly be implemented if there are good reasons for that," said Medvedev, who has cast himself as one of Russia's most hawkish political voices since its forces invaded Ukraine starting in February 2022.
Georgia lost control over the regions after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moscow recognised their independence in 2008, following Georgia’s attempt to regain control of South Ossetia by force that led to a Russian counter-attack.
Although Russian relations with Georgia have improved since then, Medvedev accused the West of creating tensions around the country by discussing its possible admission by NATO.
"We will not wait if our concerns become closer to reality," Medvedev said in the article that marked the 15th anniversary of the independence recognition, referring to a possible annexation.
Georgian officials have repeatedly said they are committed to joining the U.S.-led military alliance that would preserve the territorial integrity of the country.
Russia declared the annexations four provinces of Ukraine in September last year, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, but none of the annexations are recognised internationally.
(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova in New York; editing by Grant McCool)