Russia Offers Belarus $500 Million For Abkhazia Recognition

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has pledged an unspecified amount of financial aid to the breakaway region of Abkhazia.

"After gaining independence, there is more work to do. Belarus would be glad to help solve more problems that exist in the region," Lukashenko was quoted by his official website as telling de facto Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh at a March 23 meeting.

Belarus, heavily dependent on economic ties with Russia, has been under Kremlin pressure recently to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and the twin breakaway region of South Ossetia. The Kremlin has offered Minsk a $500 million credit on condition that Belarus recognizes the two regions as countries independent from Georgia, Russian media reported.

The European Union has warned Belarus against such a move. Lukashenko is expected to broach the issue with the Belarussian legislature in April, when parliament reconvenes, the Russian daily Kommersant reported.



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