U.S. Monitoring Resources in Abkhazia and S. Ossetia

NEW YORK — The United States is mulling what measures to take if Russian companies move to extract oil or minerals in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday.

Rice used unusually stern language to describe actions by Russia, which she said had dug itself into a hole internationally with its incursion into Georgia last month.

"Sometimes when someone has dug a hole, it's just best to leave them in it," Rice said.

Much of the rest of the world, she said, was turned off by Moscow's military incursion and subsequent recognition of the two separatist areas as independent states.

Under a French-brokered cease-fire deal, Russia has until Oct. 10 to withdraw troops from "security zones" around South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia has said it will keep a planned 7,600 troops in the two separatist regions indefinitely.

U.S. officials warn that Moscow will face a strong reaction if it does not comply with the deal. Rice said Washington was also watching to see whether Moscow moves to extract natural resources from the breakaway regions.

"We're looking at questions of what the posture of the United States would be, should Russian companies … choose to try to do business in, or certainly, involve themselves in extractive activities, in what is a zone of conflict, and is indeed a part of … the internationally recognized boundaries of Georgia," she said.

"Extractive can mean more than oil, it can also mean minerals," she said.

She did not say what the United States could do about any such mining. "We haven't made any determinations."

The United States already has frozen a civilian cooperation agreement with Russia because of its behavior in Georgia and canceled a military exercise.