Russia said Wednesday that it could expand ties with the South Pacific island nation of Nauru after the world's smallest republic recognized two breakaway provinces of Georgia that had declared independence with Russian backing.
Moscow recognized Abkhazia and 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 this week.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said that Nauru's recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia will boost their credentials and help stability in the region.
Nauru has a population of about 10,000 people and an area of 8 square miles (21 square kilometers).
The Kremlin rewarded Venezuela and Nicaragua with lucrative arms and energy deals. Nesterenko said that the Nauruan delegation had stopped in Moscow on its way to Abkhazia and South Ossetia and met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
"They talked about opportunities for expanding bilateral ties," Nesterenko said.
Nauru has been desperate for cash after its phosphate deposits were largely depleted, and it tried to earn money by housing a refugee detention center for Australia. After its closure in 2008, the island nation has almost totally dependent on foreign aid.