Russia slams Clinton for 'groundless' comments on Georgia
Russia on Wednesday slammed as groundless comments by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton describing its presence in Georgian breakaway regions as an occupation.
"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of the term 'occupation' is groundless in this context," , a foreign ministry statement said.
On her visit to Georgia Monday, Clinton called on Russia to end its "occupation" of the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which Moscow has recognized as independent following the 2008 war with Georgia.
Washington and Moscow have pledged not to let differences over Georgia hamper a reset in their relations launched by US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev.
But the foreign ministry statement was one of Moscow's sharpest rebukes of Washington since a US-Russia spy scandal erupted last month.
After a brief war with Tbilisi over the disputed territories, Moscow recognised the rebel regions as independent states and established permanent military bases, deploying hundreds of troops and border guards in the regions.
Wednesday's ministry statement shot back at Clinton's comments calling on Moscow to pull its forces out, saying Washington was ignoring the new "objective realities".
"There is not a single Russian soldier on the territory of Georgia. There is a Russian military contingent but on the territory of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," it said.
"We are counting on our partners taking account of these objective realities."
Only Venezuela, Nicaragua and the tiny island state of Nauru have followed Russia in recognizing as sovereign Georgia's breakaway regions.
© 2010 AFP