WASHINGTON– President Bush condemned what he called Russia’s “irresponsible decision” today to recognize the Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states. “Russia’s action only exacerbates tensions and complicates diplomatic negotiations,” Bush, in Crawford, Texas, said in a statement.

The president’s response comes after a reported announcement by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that Moscow intends to formally recognize the two breakaway provinces in Georgia, where Russia continues to maintain troops in defiance of a cease-fire agreement and mounting international pressure to withdrawal.

“We expect Russia to live up to its international commitments, reconsider this irresponsible decision, and follow the approach set out in the six-point agreement,” Bush said, referring to a French-brokered peace deal signed two weeks ago by Medvedev and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

“In accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions that remain in force, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are within the internationally recognized borders of Georgia, and they must remain so,” the president said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today called Moscow’s decision “regrettable,” saying it puts Russia in opposition to security resolutions negotiated by the United Nation’s Security Council, to which Russia is a member.

“It simply means that the Russian president continues not to honor the commitments that the Russians have signed onto,” Rice said at a news conference in Ramallah, Palestine.

Russia escalated a simmering conflict with neighboring Georgia on Aug. 8 when it invaded the former Soviet republic, followed by bombing of civilian infrastructure and clashes in Georgian villages.

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