State Department scolds Putin for 'inappropriate' trip

State Department scolds Putin for 'inappropriate' trip

The State Department on Wednesday scolded Russian President Vladimir Putin for visiting a Russian-occupied Georgian region, calling the trip "inappropriate." 

"The United States views the visit of President Putin to the Russian-occupied Georgian territory of Abkhazia as inappropriate and inconsistent with the principles underlying the Geneva International Discussions, to which Russia is a party," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement on Wednesday. 

Putin's visit was seen as supporting Abkhazian separatists, in violation of Georgia’s sovereignty, which is recognized by the Geneva mission.

"The United States fully supports Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and rejects Russia’s recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," Nauert continued. 

The Russian leader's visit marked the ninth anniversary of Russia sending troops into the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008, fostering the separatists' bid to become independent states. Most countries recognize them as a part of Georgia. 

"The United States urges Russia to withdraw its forces to pre-war positions per the 2008 ceasefire agreement and reverse its recognition of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," Nauert said.

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili has called Putin's visit "a violation of international law." 

During his visit, Putin expressed Russia's commitment to building a joint military contingent with Abkhazia's separatist administration's leader, Raul Khajimba, according to Reuters. 

Putin's visit comes as he appears to expand Russia's influence over eastern Europe. 

Vice President Pence sought to reassure NATO allies of the U.S. commitment to the region in the face of Russian aggression on a trip to the Baltic states late last month.