The United States has condemned an agreement between Russia and the leaders of Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia concerning a joint military force.
In a statement issued on January 26, the U.S. State Department said the agreement, which Russia ratified a day earlier, was not a valid treaty.
"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. We do not recognize the legitimacy of this so-called 'treaty,' which does not constitute a valid international agreement," the statement said.
South Ossetia and Abkhazia are Russian-backed separatist regions that have declared independence from Georgia. Russia recognized the regions as independent states following a short war with Georgia in August 2008. Only a few countries followed Russia's lead in recognizing the entities' independence.
Russia has said the agreement allows for the formation of a "common defense space" with the breakaway region "and will undoubtedly serve as another factor to ensure that what happened in 2008 will not be repeated."
Georgia, which has expressed hopes of joining NATO, and Russia broke off diplomatic relations following the 2008 war. Moscow keeps troops in both regions.
"The United States' position on Abkhazia and South Ossetia is unwavering: The United States fully supports Georgia's territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders," the U.S. State Department said.
"The United States views ratification of this agreement as inconsistent with the principles underlying the Geneva International Discussions, to which Russia is a participant. The United States urges Russia to withdraw its forces to pre-war positions per the 2008 cease-fire agreement and reverse its recognition of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia."