Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rejected suggestions that Russia may target pro-Western Ukraine after recognizing Georgia`s breakaway regions, according to Bloomberg.

Russia has ``long recognized`` Ukraine`s borders, Putin said yesterday in an interview with Germany`s ARD television. He also said Russia will honor its oil- and gas-export contracts, and he repeated criticism of U.S. involvement in Georgia.

The Crimea in southern Ukraine on the Black Sea, with its Russian-speaking population and a Russian naval base, ``is not a disputed territory,`` and didn`t have an ethnic conflict, as South Ossetia had, the former Russian president said. His comments were posted on the Russian government`s Web site.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Aug. 28 he assumes that Ukraine and Moldova are the next ``Russian targets`` after the Kremlin recognized the independence of Georgian breakaway regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Ukraine, like Georgia, has allied with the West and is seeking to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The U.S. has long seen Georgia and Ukraine as counterweights to Russia`s influence in the region.


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