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Russia Defends Recognition of Georgian Rebel Territories

  • VOA News

Russia has defended its decision to recognize the independence of two breakaway Georgian regions, saying Georgia's raid into South Ossetia created what it calls a "new reality."

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin spoke to reporters Tuesday just after President Dmitri Medvedev ordered his foreign ministry to set up diplomatic relations with South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Churkin Tuesday said Georgia's attempt to re-take control of South Ossetia by force canceled past U.N. resolutions affirming Georgia's territorial integrity.

But Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili calls Russia's recognition completely illegal, pointing out that Abkhazia and South Ossetia are part of Georgia under international law. He accused Russia of attempting to redraw the map of Europe.

A Pentagon spokesman (Bryan Whitman) said Tuesday Russia is still not living up to the cease-fire in Georgia. He said Russian troops still maintain observation posts and checkpoints. Russia had promised it would leave Georgia by the end last week.

Georgian troops moved into South Ossetia August seventh, in a push to regain control of the rebellious territory. The move triggered a massive Russian response, with Moscow sending in tanks and thousands of troops, saying it had to protect Russian citizens.

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