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Lukashenko on Possible Abkhazia, S. Ossetia Recognition

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said on February 7 he does not rule out recognizing the independence of Russian-occupied Abkhazia, Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and annexed Crimean Peninsula “as long as I understand and President [Vladimir Putin] tells me there is a need for it.”

Russian state-owned TASS news agency quoted Lukashenko as questioning however whether there was “some kind of vital necessity” for recognizing the regions as independent, during an interview with Russian media personality Vladimir Solovyov.

The news agency also cited Lukashenko as having said earlier that recognition of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region would mean “Georgia gets immediately agitated, countries with territorial claims get excited and the West immediately flares up,” arguing this was not necessary for Russia itself.

Moscow recognized the independence of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia on August 26, 2008, two weeks after the end of the Russo-Georgian war. Syria, Venezuela, Nauru, and Nicaragua are the only other nations that recognize the two regions’ independence from Georgia. Tbilisi and most of the international community regard the two regions as part of Georgia.

In 2009, Minsk was considering to recognize Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, but eventually refused to follow Moscow’s suit. Lukashenko then said he rejected the recognition because Moscow refused to share negative consequences, including sanctions expected for Belarus from the West in case of such decision.

NB: This article was updated at 13:21, February 8 to reflect Lukashenko’s remarks on Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

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