Belarus says won’t recognize Georgia regions yet

MINSK (Reuters) – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stopped short of recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on Monday, leaving Nicaragua the only state to join Russia in recognizing them.

Belarus has been the only ex-Soviet country to openly support Russia’s military intervention in Georgia last month, but has yet to recognize the two pro-Russian breakaway republics as independent, despite Minsk’s close ties to Moscow.

“A time will come when we will examine this issue in Belarus just as Russia examined it — in parliament,” Lukashenko told reporters at a news conference in Minsk when asked if he would recognize their independence.

The Kremlin sent forces into Georgia in August, saying it needed to prevent genocide in breakaway South Ossetia after Georgian forces fired artillery on the rebel capital Tskhinvali in an effort to retake the breakaway region.

Europe and the United States have criticized Russia’s action, saying its response was disproportionate. Russia now stands accused in the West of failing to comply with a French-brokered ceasefire deal — an accusation it denies.

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