The relations between Georgia and Russia date back hundreds of years and remain complicated despite certain religious and historical ties that exist between the two countries and their people. The first formal alliance between Georgia and Russia took place in 1783 when, as a last attempt to prevent eventual full Persianisation, king Heraclius II of Eastern Georgia (Kartlinia-Kahetia) signed the Treaty of Georgievsk with the Russian Empire, which the Georgian monarchy viewed as a replacement for its long-lost Orthodox ally, the Eastern Roman Empire.Despite Russia's vowing to defend Eastern Georgia, it rendered no assistance when the Persians invaded in 1785 and again in 1795, who sought to bring the region back under full Persian hegemony. It was only belatedly that Catherine the Great of Russia put in place punitive measures against Persia, only to be cut short by her death and the enthronement of Paul against the Empress' wishes. Lacking his mother's experience and tactfulness, in December 1800 Paul signed the proclamation on the annexation of Georgia to the Russian Empire, which was finalized by a decree on January 8, 1801, and confirmed by Tsar Alexander I on September 12, 1801. The Georgian ambassador in Russia reacted with a note of protest that was presented to the Russian vice-chancellor Prince Kurakin but despite this, in May 1801 Russian General Carl Heinrich Knorring officially enforced the Russian control of the kingdom and instituted a government headed by General Ivan Petrovich Lasarev. By this, Persia officially lost control over the Georgian lands it had been ruling for centuries.The Georgian nobility did not accept the decree until April 1802 when General Knorring surrounded the nobility in Tbilisi's Sioni Cathedral and forced them to take an oath on the Imperial Crown of Russia. Those who disagreed were temporarily arrested. This was followed by the dethronement and exile of the Georgian monarch, as well as the head of the church, to St Petersburg in what was viewed in Georgia as violation of the Georgievsk Treaty.Having spent more than a century as part of the Russian Empire, in 1918 Georgia regained independence and established the First Republic. In 1921 Georgia was invaded and occupied by Bolshevik Russia to form the Soviet Union in 1922. When the country regained independence in 1991, the bilateral Russo-Georgian ties were once again strained due to Moscow's support of the separatist regions within Georgia, Georgia's independent energy policies and most recently, its intentions to join NATO.On August 29, 2008, in the aftermath of the Russo-Georgian War, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze announced that Georgia had broken diplomatic relations with Russia. He also said that Russian diplomats must leave Georgia, and that no Georgian diplomat would remain in Russia, while only consular relations would be maintained. Russian foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said that Russia regretted this step.