Georgia's breakaway province of Abkhazia on Tuesday won recognition by the South Pacific island nation of Nauru, one of the world's smallest states.
Russia recognized Abkhazia and another Georgian separatist province of South Ossetia as independent states after the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia. Only Venezuela and Nicaragua followed Russia's example before the Republic of Nauru's move.
Russia said it hadn't tried to encourage other nations to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but the Kremlin rewarded Venezuela and Nicaragua with lucrative arms and energy deals. It was not immediately clear whether there were any deals with Nauru.
But, Temuri Yakobashvili, Georgia's Cabinet minister in charge of issues related to the breakaway regions, alleged that Russia had offered financial support to the island. "It's more commerce than politics," he said.
Abkhazian separatist government spokesman Kristian Dzhaniya said that Abkhazia and Nauru signed an agreement to establish diplomatic ties in Abkhazia's provincial capital of Sukhumi.
Nauru is one of the world's smallest states with a population of about 10,000 people and an area of some 21 square kilometers (about 8 square miles).
"The size and the number of population don't matter," Abkhazia's separatist President Sergei Bagapsh said at the signing, according to the RIA Novosti news agency. "Nauru is a member of the United Nations."
Bagapsh has written to Nauruan President Marcus Stephen asking him to formally recognize Abkhazia's independence and invited him to visit.
Nauruan representatives also visited another breakaway region, South Ossetia, over the weekend and promised to consider recognizing it as independent.