Clinton Criticizes Russia for Occupying Georgia

By Park Sae-jin Posted : July 6, 2010, 10:32 Updated : July 6, 2010, 10:32

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in the Armenian capital Yerevan, Sunday, July 4, 2010, 
during her brief visit to the ex-Soviet nation. 
Clinton on Sunday appealed to Armenia and Azerbaijan for a peaceful resolution of a long-running territorial dispute between the neighboring ex-Soviet states, 
but there were no outward signs of fresh diplomatic progress. [AP]

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton rebuked Russia on Monday for failing to live up to the cease-fire agreement it signed nearly two years ago to end the fighting in this small former Soviet state.

She asserted that Russia is occupying parts of Georgia and building permanent military bases in contravention of the truce.

"We're calling on the Russians to enforce the agreement they signed," she told a news conference with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili at her side. She said that includes pulling its troops back to the positions they held before the invasion.

Several times she pointedly referred to Russian troops as occupiers of the breakaway Georgian territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. She said the U.S. was "appalled and totally rejected" Russia's rationale for the invasion, which temporarily put U.S.-Russian relations in a deep freeze and prompted NATO to suspend cooperation with Moscow.

"The United States is steadfast in its commitment to Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity," she said. "The United States does not recognize spheres of influence," she added, referring to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's claim that his country has "privileged interests" and special influence in Georgia and other former Soviet states.

Georgia gained its independence in 1991 with the collapse of Soviet communism.

Asked about Clinton's comments, Russia's powerful Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned Georgia against trying to rally U.S. support.

"They mustn't seek solutions outside," Putin said, according to Russian news agencies. "It's necessary to conduct a dialogue without citing third parties."

Russia wants to retain clout in the region as a counterweight to the eastward march of NATO, which in recent years has expanded its frontiers to include the former Soviet states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Ukraine also had been pursuing membership but reversed course this year with the election of a more Moscow-friendly government.

Clinton said she and Obama raised the Georgia issues with Medvedev when he was in Washington last month.

기사 이미지 확대 보기