Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says his country supports the territorial integrity of Georgia, making clear he does not recognize the Russian-backed separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.
Lukashenka -- on his first visit to Georgia in more than 20 years in power -- told journalists after talks with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili in Tbilisi on April 23 that Belarus recognizes "Georgia's territorial integrity in its internationally recognized borders."
The remarks, and the visit itself, signaled to Russian President Vladimir Putin that Belarus is wary of Russia's regional intentions after its annexation of Crimea and its support for separatists who are fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine.
Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries after a five-day war with Georgia in 2008.
Russia has thousands of troops in both regions, which have signed "alliance and integration" treaties with Moscow in recent months.
Lukashenka said that after the war between Russia and Georgia, "it would have been wise to build relations in a softer way and maybe to refrain from some steps."
Based on reporting by Interfax, Belta.by, apsny.ge, and civil.ge