US criticizes Medvedev visit to South Ossetia

WASHINGTON

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia has not contributed to promoting stability following last year’s brief war, the US State Department said Tuesday.

Medvedev made the controversial trip to South Ossetia Monday and offered financial and military support in defiance of the West and the Georgian government.

“Certainly I don’t think that it was any kind of step forward in terms of establishing stability in the region,” US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

The situation in Georgia over the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia has been a source of tension in US-Russian relations. The US strongly objected to Moscow’s invasion of Georgia last year in response to a Georgian military offensive in South Ossetia to quell separatist attacks.

Moscow accused Georgia of provoking the conflict and supports independence for Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

While in Russia last week with Medvedev, US President Barack Obama acknowledged that the two countries continue to disagree over the conflict, and vowed support for the former Soviet republic’s aspiration to join NATO. Russia has criticized NATO expansion into what the Kremlin considers its historical sphere of influence.

Since the war that began in August, Russia has stationed thousands of additional troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

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