27 Sep 2010

More interest in Pacific from former Soviet states expected

2:46 pm on 27 September 2010

A New Zealand academic says Russian and Georgian activity in the Pacific could grow, as both countries try to assert influence.

The Georgian President last week called for Nauru, along with two other countries, to overturn its recognition of the breakway states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Nauru has since received substantial aid from Russia.

And this month, Tuvalu has received 12 thousand US dollars in assistance from Georgia.

A Senior lecturer in Russian politics and foreign policy at Otago University, Dr Jim Headley, says given Nauru's dependence on aid, there's a benefit in recognising the states in the short term.

"I'm not sure whether the kind of degree of benefit is so great, for any of the actors, I don't think the Pacific is going to be the main focus for Georgia or Russia, or the breakaway republics. They're particularly looking at the European Union. So I guess it's a kind of easy way for them to try to get some international status, so if it can be done cheaply, then maybe."

But Dr Jim Headley says siding with Russia at the UN may isolate Nauru, especially from European Union countries.