“The United States condemns the Russian Federation’s ratification of an agreement with the de facto leaders in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia regarding a joint military force,” State Department’s Spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a press statement on January 26.
“We do not recognize the legitimacy of this so-called “treaty,” which does not constitute a valid international agreement,” she noted, adding that the United States has an “unwavering” position on Abkhazia and South Ossetia: “the United States fully supports Georgia’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.”
U.S. condemns #Russia’s ratification of an agreement with the de facto leaders in Georgia’s breakaway region of #SouthOssetia regarding a joint military force. We do not recognize legitimacy of this so-called “treaty,” which does not constitute a valid international agreement.
— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) January 26, 2018
The State Department Spokesperson added that the United States viewed “ratification of this agreement as inconsistent with the principles underlying the Geneva International Discussions,” and urged the Russian authorities “to withdraw its forces to pre-war positions per the 2008 ceasefire agreement and reverse its recognition of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”
The military agreement, signed on March 31, 2017 and ratified by the State Duma three days ago, regulates service of the residents of the Russian-occupied Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia in the Russian military, in particular Moscow’s military base stationed in the region, effectively formalizing the merger of the region’s military units into the Russian armed forces.
The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the ratification “represents another unlawful step by the Russian Federation towards factual annexation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia, in full disregard for the fundamental norms and principles of international law.”