No pressure on Belarus over S.Ossetia, Abkhazia - minister

MOSCOW, October 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is not putting pressure on Belarus to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said on Wednesday in an interview with RIA Novosti.

"Russia does not put pressure on its international partners over the issue of the recognition of the new Caucasus republics by other states. Every state should this decide for itself," he said.

Belarus has so far refused to join Russia in recognizing the two republics as independent states.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said in early October that unnamed forces in Russia were to blame for Minsk's refusal. Lukashenko blamed reports in Russia's state-controlled media, which said Belarus's reluctance to recognize the regions was a response to Russia's refusal to grant the remaining $500 million of a loan.

"Someone in Russia wanted to force us [to recognize], or to prevent us from recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia," he said. "As if I would have recognized or not recognized them for money!"

Lukashenko also urged Russia to be patient. "We will settle the issue," he said.

Russia recognized the republics shortly after a five-day war with Georgia in August 2008 that began when Georgian forces attacked South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control. The republics have also been recognized Nicaragua and Venezuela.



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