Russia's military presence in Georgia and Moldova and its suspension of a Cold War arms deal are major concerns for European security, a senior US official said on Thursday.
"Russia's suspension of its implementation (of the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, CFE) and its military presence in Moldova and Georgia are major concerns," US Under Secretary of State William Burns said at a meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Helsinki.
Burns stepped in to represent the United States at the two-day OSCE ministerial meeting after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice cancelled for a trip to India in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.
Russian forces moved into Georgia on August 8 to repel a Georgian military attempt to retake South Ossetia, whose breakaway administration had long enjoyed extensive support from Moscow.
Russian soldiers later withdrew to within South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which Moscow has recognised as independent states, under an ensuing ceasefire deal. Georgia says Russian troops are occupying its territory.
"The host country's consent to the stationing of forces is a core principle of the CFE treaty," Burns said.
He also reiterated Washington's call for Russia to allow European observers into the two rebel Georgian regions to ensure the ceasefire there is being followed.
"What is needed now is full access for military monitors throughout the internationally recognised territory of Georgia and an agreement to extend the mandate of the OSCE mission," he said.
Earlier Thursday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said he doubted the deployment of troops in the two Georgian provinces was helping stabilise the region, and called on Moscow to "immediately" renew its commitment to the CFE treaty.
Russia also has troops in Transdniestr, a narrow strip of land in the east of Moldova bordering Ukraine where pro-Russian separatists fought a brief war and declared their independence from Moldova in 1992.
The region's de-facto autonomy from Moldova has never been recognised internationally.