U.S. condemns Russia on S.Ossetia, Abkhazia
CRAWFORD, Texas |
CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush on Tuesday condemned Russia for recognizing Georgian rebel regions as independent, calling it an "irresponsible decision," and said Moscow was escalating tensions.
Despite a ceasefire agreement and pressure from the United States and Europe, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he signed decrees recognizing the independence of the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Bush said the decision was inconsistent with the French-brokered ceasefire agreement Georgia and Russia signed earlier this month, as well as U.N. Security Council resolutions stating the two areas are part of Georgia.
"We expect Russia to live up to its international commitments, reconsider this irresponsible decision and follow the approach set out in the six-point (ceasefire) agreement," he said in a written statement from his Texas ranch.
"Russia's action only exacerbates tensions and complicates diplomatic negotiations," Bush said. "In accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions that remain in force, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are within the internationally recognized borders of Georgia, and they must remain so."
Washington also said that any attempt to alter those resolutions would be "dead-on-arrival" at the U.N. Security Council where both the United States and Russia have vetoes.
The conflict erupted when Tbilisi tried to retake the pro-Moscow separatist region of South Ossetia, which threw off Georgian rule in the 1990s. Russia responded with a counter-attack that overwhelmed Georgian forces.
Russian troops moved into South Ossetia and a second rebel region of Abkhazia and then entered Georgia proper, prompting criticism from Washington that Moscow had gone too far.
HUMANITARIAN AID OR ARMS?
Medvedev, in a BBC interview, accused the United States of shipping arms to Georgia on naval vessels under the cover of humanitarian aid. The White House rejected that charge as "ridiculous".
"I can assure you that these are purely humanitarian aid shipments that are going into Georgia and nothing else," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. He added that Russia was making a number of "irrational" decisions in the conflict.
The White House has repeatedly warned Moscow of consequences for its actions but has refused to detail what the United States would do to punish Russia.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, traveling in the Middle East, said Russia's decision to recognize the regions puts it in opposition to several U.N. Security Council resolutions to which it is a party.
"I want to be very clear," Rice said. "Since the United States is a permanent member of the (U.N) Security Council, this simply will be dead-on-arrival in the Security Council" if Russia tries introduce changes.
She said it was "extremely unfortunate" that Moscow was pre-empting international discussions about the future of the regions and said Medvedev "continues not to honor the commitments that the Russians have signed onto" to end the fighting in Georgia.
The United States has partnered with Russia on some key foreign policy issues, such as trying to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programs, and Fratto said he did not expect those to suffer from the rising tensions.
"It is not in Russia's interest to have a nuclear armed nation on its border, on the Korean peninsula," he told reporters in Texas.
"I'm not aware of any degradation of our cooperation with respect to the six-party talks," he said, referring to China, Russia, Japan and South Korea which are involved in disarmament talks with Pyongyang along with the United States.
(Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Ramallah, Sue Pleming, David Morgan and Tabassum Zakaria in Washington; Editing by David Alexander and Cynthia Osterman)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this