Local lawmakers in the mainly Russian-speaking Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine on Wednesday called for Kyiv to recognize two Moscow-backed Georgian separatist provinces, according to AFP, Canada.com.

"The parliament of the autonomous republic of the Crimea calls on the national parliament to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," said a resolution approved by 79 out of the assembly`s 90 deputies.

European officials warn the Crimea could be the next flashpoint for tensions with Russia because of the high number of Russians who live there and Russia`s Black Sea Fleet, which is based in the southern Ukrainian port of Sevastopol.

Russia last month fought a brief war with Georgia in what it said was a bid to defend the lives of Russian citizens and soldiers residing in the Georgian rebel region of South Ossetia, which Georgia had attempted to retake.

The local assembly vote comes amid a political crisis in Ukraine provoked by the conflict in Georgia, which has exacerbated tensions within the country`s pro-Western government coalition and could turn Kiev more towards Moscow.

The Crimea was handed over from Soviet Russia to Soviet Ukraine in 1954 by then leader Nikita Khrushchev in a move that was then largely symbolic since both Russia and Ukraine were part of the Soviet Union.