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US Condemns Russian Recognition of Breakaway Georgian Areas


The United States Tuesday condemned Russia's recognition of the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, with President Bush urging Moscow to reconsider. U.S. officials say there is no chance the United Nations will accept the two regions bordering Russia as separate states. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

The United States has joined European allies in rejecting the recognition announcement, with the White House calling the action on Abkhazia and South Ossetia one of a number of irrational decisions by Moscow.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, acting a day after the parliament in Moscow voted for recognition, insisted Moscow had been forced to take the step after Georgia's attempt to take control of South Ossetia early this month.

President Bush, in a written statement from Texas, said the action only exacerbates tensions and complicates diplomacy in the wake of this month's Georgian crisis, and he urged Moscow to reconsider the irresponsible decision.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, at a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said Russia's move to recognize areas clearly within the borders of Georgia is regrettable, and contrary to international accords supported by Moscow including the recent Georgia cease-fire.

"It puts Russia of course in opposition to a number of Security Council resolutions to which it is party as a member of the Security Council, as a member of the United Nations, and most appallingly as a member of the P-5 [permanent Security Council members]," she said. "The cease-fire also talked about the importance of moving forward to an international way to deal with these zones of conflict, so to preempt those international discussions is extremely unfortunate. Not only has the United States warned about this, but so has Europe."

Rice said any attempt by Moscow to try to validate the recognition of the two regions as independent in the U.N. Security Council would be dead on arrival.

She said various Security Council resolutions supported by Moscow itself recognize the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within internationally recognized borders that include two regions.

Russia contends that Western countries undermined arguments for the sanctity of Georgia's borders by endorsing Kosovo's independence from Moscow's ally Serbia earlier this year.

But U.S. and European officials say Kosovo was a unique case, and that the Security Council implicitly authorized independence when it tasked U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari to find a solution when negotiations between Kosovars and Serbia failed.

A senior U.S. official who spoke to reporters here said he expected few, if any, countries to follow Russia's lead in recognizing the two areas and that Moscow is isolating itself with the clearly unacceptable diplomatic maneuver.

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