The strange friendship between Nauru and Russia

The strange friendship between Nauru and Russia

Of the 146 districts in Moscow, only 3 have a smaller population than Nauru. Even 21 of them are more spacious than the entire island. This country is so small that it officially has no capital. However, despite the obvious difference in size, Russia and Nauru have close diplomatic relations. One only has to look, for example, at the list of countries that accept unrecognized states as independent states and which Russia supports in Georgia: In addition to other states close to the Kremlin such as Syria or Belarus, there is this small island in the Pacific Ocean. . This recognition did not come free – although it came at a small price – for the Kremlin, which was forced to provide millions of dollars in order to rely on more support for its rebel allies.

Although Nauru, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, may seem uninterested in post-Soviet affairs, it has good incentive to be aware. Thanks to the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states in 2009, it received a donation of 42.2 million euros the following year. Although it may seem trivial in terms of countries, for an island like Nauru, with a population of only 10,000 people, it represents a real wealth representing 38% of the country’s GDP.

The richest in the world

This small country, which was the richest in the world in the 1970s thanks to its export of phosphates – if we talk about GDP per capita – lost gas when its reserves of these minerals ran out, and went through periods of even greater difficulties due to corruption and corruption. Bad investments from the CEO.

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To support its economy, it has found different ways since the 1990s, when phosphates could no longer be exported, such as becoming a tax haven, or a refugee camp (cases of torture are reported in the centers where migrants are detained). Trying to reach Australia) and receiving international aid. The director of the University of New Zealand, Malkai Kolomatangi, quoted by the Australian ABC portal, confirms that Nauru only seeks an alliance with Moscow for the sake of economic interests. “They do it for the money, funds and financial assistance they can get from this recognition.” “This may also allow him to have a voice on the international stage, but that is mainly due to economic reasons,” he adds.

The Russian-Nauruan relationship did not begin in 2009, but in 1968, when Moscow supported the country’s independence, and strengthened in the difficult 1990s, the chaotic years in the Russian Federation after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. When local authorities could not manage income well during the boom years, those who had placed the country ahead of powers such as the United States or Germany in terms of per capita GDP were forced to look for alternatives. One of those that have emerged are tax havens. Although they abandoned this strategy at the beginning of the millennium, in the 1990s the Nauruan authorities allowed anyone in the world, without having to be physically present in Nauru, to open an account in the country.

104 Russian banks

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Although it is difficult to keep an accurate record, it is estimated that more than €64.73 billion came from Russia in 1998 alone. At least 104 Russian banks were registered on the atoll during that decade. In 2002, Nauru actually lost its tax haven status due to a change in policy, as a result of US pressure, among other reasons.

Russia retains some persuasive power in this small country, even if it does not always support it in votes at the United Nations.

Now Beijing is looking to make gains in Moscow. Nauru, which has recognized Taiwan in the past (in exchange for money), has looked to the Asian giant, recalling that its recognition of the People’s Republic of China had previously allowed it to receive €120 million in aid in 2002. Seeking Chinese warmth, they severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in January of this year 2024.

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