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Last Updated: Friday, 15 February 2008, 11:39 GMT
Russia links Kosovo with Georgia
Russia has indicated it may change its policy towards breakaway regions in Georgia if the West recognises the independence of Kosovo.

Moscow has repeatedly hinted it could recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia if Kosovo separates from Serbia.

The foreign ministry said Moscow would "take into account" developments in Kosovo, but did not say how.

Kosovo may declare independence this weekend, and the US and most EU states are expected to recognise it quickly.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci is expected to say later on Friday that the declaration of independence will be made on 17 February, the AFP reports quoting a source in Mr Thaci's office.

Serbia earlier urged the UN Security Council to oppose Kosovo's expected move.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said Belgrade would not use force to stop the secession of the southern province but warned that allowing it would give a green light to other separatist movements.

De facto independent

"We will, without doubt, have to take into account a declaration and recognition of Kosovo independence in connection with the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

The statement came after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met the leaders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Moscow.

Most people in Georgia's two breakaway republics, which have enjoyed de facto independence since the early 1990s, already have Russian citizenship.

Tbilisi accuses Moscow of supporting both regions, in order to undermine its own attempts to build a strong and independent nation state.

Russia denies the accusations.

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