Despite improving relations between Russia and Ukraine, Kiev has no plans to recognize the former Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

"The issue of territorial integrity and inviolability of borders is fundamental to us," Kostyantyn Hryshchenko told Kommersant-Ukraine, RIA Novosti reported.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia recognized their independence 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. Only Nicaragua, Venezuela and the tiny Pacific island state of Nauru have followed suit.

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko supported Georgia in the war over South Ossetia, causing a worsening of already sour relations between Russia and Ukraine. Kiev's NATO bid and a series of gas disputes were also causes of animosity.

Viktor Yanukovych, who was sworn in on February 25, has pledged to steer a more balanced policy towards Russia.

Before his victory in February's polls, Yanukovych's Party of Regions called on the Yushchenko administration to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Many experts believe Yanukovych, seen as pro-Russian during the election campaign, will "disappoint" Moscow, pledging friendship with the Kremlin while still trying to pursue Yushchenko's bid to take Ukraine into NATO and the EU.


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