There are further signs of souring relations between Russia and the former Soviet state of Belarus.
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has refused to attend a security summit in Moscow, in a protest over a Russian ban on dairy imports from Belarus. Moscow stopped accepting Belarussian milk products on June 6, claiming there are health concerns. Ties have been strained between the two countries since 2007. Belarus has denounced rising prices for Russian gas and Moscow is reportedly upset by Lukashenko’s growing overtures to the West, including the European Union. Also, last month, Russia froze a massive loan to Belarus. Lukashenko claimed it was retaliation by Moscow after he refused to recognise the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.