by Giorgi Lomsadze
Belarus's strongman leader, Alexander Lukashenko, just reelected on December 19, feared that his 2009 gas bill from Russia would come in the form of a request to recognize breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia, according to alleged US embassy cables published by The Guardian.
The documents claim that Lukashenko, who described Russia's 2008 war with Georgia as "planned . . . years in advance," complained that the European Union, often critical of his government policies, failed to give him due credit for resisting purported Russian pressure to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. The documents were provided by WikiLeaks to The Guardian.
Regional media has long reported that Moscow, which has troops stationed in both breakaway regions, is trying to press Belarus into joining Venezuela, Nicaragua and Nauru by recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as countries separate from Georgia. The Kremlin has denied the reports.
But Lukashenko's resistance to Moscow only went so far, apparently. The documents allege that he decided against accepting an invitation from Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to visit Tbilisi.