WASHINGTON -- The United States says it is "deeply concerned" by the decision of Russia-backed separatists in Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region to close two crossing points on the boundary line with Georgian-controlled territory.
U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on March 6 that the closures, completed a day earlier near the villages of Otobaia and Nabakevi, "will further restrict freedom of movement and damage the livelihoods of local residents."
"The United States calls for these crossing points to be reopened, allowing children to attend school and residents to move freely to engage in commerce, visit relatives, and obtain necessary medical services," Toner said.
NATO had previously criticized the announcement of the planned closures, saying they would "have a negative impact on the situation on [the] ground and stability in the region."
The European Union said the closures of the crossing points "would be contrary to efforts to normalize the situation."
Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries after fighting a brief war against Georgia in 2008, and maintains thousands of troops in the breakaway Georgian regions.
Toner reiterated Washington's longstanding support for Tbilisi in the standoff, saying the United States "fully supports Georgia’s territorial integrity, independence, and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders."