Lukashenko Praises Russia Over Georgia Actions

SOCHI -- Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko praised Russia on Tuesday for the handling of its military operations in Georgia -- a rare voice of approval after Moscow's allies distanced themselves from the conflict.

Belarus, like other countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States, remained silent for days after fighting erupted as they scrambled to work out their positions. Russia criticized Belarus for failing to offer open support.

But addressing President Dmitry Medvedev on a visit to the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Lukashenko praised Russia's actions. "I want to thank you for the wisdom you showed in handling the aggression of a foreign state," he said. "It was a quiet and calm reaction which restored peace in the region."

Lukashenko dismissed Western criticism of Russia's handling of the conflict.

"When I hear Western states and America discussing the issue and criticizing Russia, I think they are unwise," he said. "Russia did everything in a very careful way. [The West] would have shaken up the entire world in the same situation."

Analysts say the CIS's muted reaction has revealed a possible rift between them and the Kremlin. Lukashenko has been engaged in a series of feuds with Russia over energy prices. "All our problems in trade and economic relations have been solved," a broadly smiling Lukashenko told Medvedev.