Russian troop increase in Georgia risks instability, US says
Russian plans to increase its peacekeeping contingency in Georgia's breakaway provinces risk destabilizing the region, the US State Department said Wednesday, the dpa reported.
Moscow on Tuesday announced the buildup to counter what it said were Georgian moves to expand its military presence along its borders with South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
But the United States has not seen any similar increases by Georgian forces, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
"Some of these Russia actions, in terms of troop buildups along the border, certainly risk destabilizing the region," McCormack said. "We would ask Russia to reconsider some of the steps that they have taken recently."
Tension between Georgia and Russia has risen in recent weeks over the former Soviet republic's separatist South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions. Russia last month said it would step up diplomatic ties to South Ossetia and Abkhazia in what Georgia said amounted to plans to annex the two regions.
Russia has had peacekeeping troops in the regions since civil wars ended in early 1990s, and South Ossetia and Abkhazia have since governed autonomously.
Moscow has expressed misgivings about NATO plans to eventually invite Georgia and Ukraine to join the alliance, and has warned that Kosovo's independence from Serbia in February could serve as a precedent for the territories in Georgia.
"There is an unshakable commitment on the part of the United States to Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty over all of Georgia's territory," McCormack said.