Russia, which is supposed to be facilitating a peace process, is “instead openly siding with the separatists, calling into question Russia’s facilitator role,” U.S. ambassador to the OSCE Julie Finley said on April 17.
Speaking at the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, the U.S. diplomat called on Russia “to repeal” President Putin’s instructions “allowing the Russian government to create “mechanisms” to “protect” the interests of Russian citizens and other residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”
She said that the document released by the Russian Foreign Ministry did not elaborate “where such mechanisms would be located and where such services would be carried out.”
“While we appreciate assurances we have received from Russian government officials that there are no plans to locate these “mechanisms” in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the immediate future, the text of the instructions leaves open this possibility,” the U.S. diplomat said.
She also pointed out that instructions allowing Russian authorities to recognize as legally valid various documents and decisions taken by the authorities in the breakaway regions would amount to “legitimating the actions and legislation of the Abkhaz and South Ossetian separatists.”
“Georgia understandably views the instructions as a provocation and a serious challenge to its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” she said. “This move, coupled with Russia’s recent lifting of CIS sanctions that opens the possibility for military assistance to Abkhazia, has significantly increased tensions in an already volatile region. In this regard, we expect Russia to live up to its recent assurances that Russia will abide by its international commitments and responsibilities not to supply weapons to conflict zones and to maintain Russian sanctions on the transfer of military services and equipment to separatist regions.”