WASHINGTON -- The United States has denounced a move by Russia to allow soldiers from the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia to serve in the Russian armed forces.
The sharp criticism from the U.S. State Department on March 15 came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government to conclude an agreement facilitating the integration of South Ossetia's forces into the Russian military's command structure.
Russia recognized South Ossetia and another separatist Georgian region, Abkhazia, as independent countries after fighting a brief war against Georgia in 2008.
It has kept thousands of troops in the regions, deployments that NATO says violate the EU-brokered deal that ended the fighting.
The United States and all but a handful of countries consider the two territories part of Georgia.
"The United States condemns the Russian Federation's decision to integrate military forces from Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia," the State Department spokesperson told RFE/RL, adding that Washington's "position on South Ossetia and Abkhazia is clear -- these regions are integral parts of Georgia."