30 Jan 2012

Russian diplomat's visit to South Pacific shows interest in region

11:28 am on 30 January 2012

A Senior Fellow at the New Zealand Centre for Strategic Studies says a visit by Russia's foreign minister to Fiji demonstrates the country's interest in the Pacific.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is to visit Fiji after stops in New Zealand and Australia.

According to Australian media, the Russian embassy in Canberra is ruling out lobbying Fiji to recognise Georgia's break-away regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.

Terrence O'Brien's says despite the report, it is no surprise the Russian government has lobbied other South Pacific governments.

"It is a sign however that South Pacific votes count. You know there are sufficient numbers of independent countries in the Pacific region for large powers from time to time to lobby them to support one or other cause that these larger powers want to pursue."

Terrence O'Brien says Russia's visit to the South Pacific should not be perceived as having a malevolent agenda.