US urges Russia to scrap decree on Abkhazia, South Ossetia
(AFP) - The United States on Friday urged Russia to scrap a decree to boost cooperation with the separatist Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia without agreement from the Tbilisi government.
"We are deeply concerned by the April 16 Russian Presidential Instructions authorizing increased contacts between the Russian government and the separatist regimes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, without the approval of the Georgian government," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
"We urge Russia to live up to its statements of support for the principles of Georgian sovereignty and territorial integrity and to repeal the April 16 instructions," he added.
Georgian Vice Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze made a hastily arranged trip to Brussels Friday, seeking EU and NATO support after Russia boosted ties with breakaway Georgian regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Georgia's situation is at "a decisive moment," Baramidze said, saying Russia had "crossed the red line" and that "Europe and the Atlantic community must react."
"We request the international community's support in order not to let Russia legalize the de facto annexation of these territories," he said in Brussels.
In Washington, McCormack said Moscow's move posed a threat to Georgia's sovereignty.
"This step challenges Georgia's territorial integrity and would not be in keeping with Russia's status as a 'facilitator' of the peace process," he said.
"We call on all parties to pursue a peaceful resolution of the separatist conflicts in Georgia," McCormack said.
"We encourage the Russian government to work constructively within the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General and other international frameworks to promote peaceful resolution of the conflicts."