Putin’s influence in Latin America

Putin’s influence in Latin America

Russia’s relations with neighboring Ukraine are now strained. But in the meantime, thousands of miles away in Latin America, Russian President Vladimir Putin is busy trying to exert Russian influence. After a long hiatus, Putin recently spoke with Nicaragua’s powerful President Daniel Ortega. This is the first talk between the two presidents since 2014. Putin also spoke by phone with Venezuelan and Cuban leaders. Recently, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez visited Moscow. During his visit to the Kremlin, he also promised to reduce his dependence on the United States.

U.S. officials fear that Russia could invade Ukraine at any time. Putin is sitting in a meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro amid fears of this. Bolsonaro flew to Moscow, ignoring messages from US officials. He is keen to increase cooperation with Russia in a number of areas, including military cooperation. He wants to work with Russia on a number of areas where cooperation can be enhanced on a priority basis. This information came up in a report of the Russian media Tas.

According to the New York Times, Bolsonaro hopes to increase military cooperation with Russia at a time when tensions are running high between Russia and the West over the situation in Ukraine. The United States and its allies have called on Bolsonaro to suspend his visit to Russia in order to increase pressure on Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in talks with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is in talks with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.Photo: Reuters
The New York Times reports that Putin is going through the most dangerous period of his administration. But his personal diplomatic efforts in Latin America have intensified since then. It is a reflection of his global ambitions. He has also begun to draw close to Brazil and Argentina, which for so long have been known as Washington’s neighbors.

Putin has also threatened to take indefinite military-technical measures if the United States and NATO fail to provide security in Eastern Europe. Since then, Moscow has begun to influence various regions. Kremlin officials have hinted that they could walk the same path as the deployment of troops in the western hemisphere. The country’s analysts and state-run media have speculated that Russia may take bold steps. Russian officials say this includes issues such as the deployment of nuclear missiles in Latin American allies.

But it is difficult to understand Putin’s true intentions. His influence in Latin America may be in disguise. It could also be a way to complicate the West’s response to his threat in Ukraine. At the same time, Latin American leaders may have their own political agendas. And they could use Putin to negotiate with the United States. In addition, they could have a greater impact on the region as a whole than with China.

Analysts believe that in the near future, Russia will provide significant diplomatic assistance to Russia from Latin America.
Recently, however, Latin American diplomacy has reminded us that Putin is pursuing a broader foreign policy. He wants to bring Russia back to the ranks of superpowers, so that he can directly challenge the United States.

Moscow has rallied troops on the Ukrainian border
Moscow has rallied troops on the Ukrainian borderFile photo: Reuters
“Vladimir Putin still sees Latin America as an important area for the United States. So it’s part of the reaction to what’s happening in Ukraine. ”

Putin’s influence in Latin America has been growing for years. He has been able to take advantage of Soviet-era ties, local discontent against the United States, and the will of special leaders. The Kremlin seized the opportunity when rich countries were busy stockpiling vaccines during the Corona epidemic. Russia has been the first to deliver the Sputnik V vaccine to five Latin American countries: Argentina, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Paraguay.

“When the world was turning its back, you were there,” Argentine President Alberto Fernandez told Putin at the Kremlin last month.

Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that “Latin America has been and will remain a region of political will, economic opportunity, cultural closeness and similar mentality for us.”

The ministry added that Russia had never participated in colonizing the region and exploiting, conflicting, fighting or using force against its people.
But despite Russia’s efforts, the United States and China have built much larger economic ties in the region. According to Harvard University, South America’s exports to Russia in 2019 were only ৫ 5 billion, compared to ৬৬ 6 billion in the United States and ৯ 119 billion in China.

The Russian summit is important for his administration and he will not drag Ukraine into it.
Jair Balsonaro. President of Brazil
China’s influence has increased, especially in Latin America, with billions of dollars in funding for its infrastructure projects. China is building an elevated metro in Colombia as well as a space center in Argentina. This economic advantage has enabled China to hold its diplomatic power in the Latin region at par with that of the United States.

Russia’s specialty in the region is to strengthen the political support of countries that are isolated on the world stage. Putin is working as a diplomatic lifeline for authoritarian leaders in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. Putin has invited Trump’s ally Jair Bolsonaro, who has been criticized by Chinese critics and questioned about Biden’s rise to power, when other countries have not taken him into custody.

Brazil and the United States came very close during the Trump administration. But he has not had a warm relationship with Bolsonaro since Joe Biden came to power. Bolsonaro did not stop questioning Biden’s election. He is even trying to question the upcoming elections in his country.

US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.Photo: Reuters
Bolsonaro told the New York Times on condition of anonymity that he had discussed the issue with US officials. Even expected a phone call from the new president. He warned that if there was no response from President Biden, he would join the conference with other world powers.
And that is exactly what Putin did to Bolsonaro. The two presidents discussed possible trade expansion and a science and security agreement, U.S. officials said.

Bolsonaro accepted Putin’s invitation to visit Moscow last December after receiving no response from Biden and growing concerns about Eastern Europe. The White House is unhappy about this. Senior U.S. officials have twice contacted the Bolsonaro administration to express their concerns. They say Bolsonaro’s visit to Moscow is not the right time to negotiate with Ukraine.

U.S. President Joe Biden has called on U.S. citizens to leave Ukraine immediately
U.S. President Joe Biden has called on U.S. citizens to leave Ukraine immediatelyPhoto: AFP
White House Press Secretary Jane Saki raised the issue of communication between Biden and Balsonaro at the foreign ministerial level. There, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stressed the need for a strong united response against Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Bolsonaro told the Brazilian media that the Russian summit was important for his administration and that he would not drag Ukraine into it. In a statement, his government said regular talks were important in the current context of Brazil-Russia relations.

At the moment, however, his allies are also criticizing Balsonaro’s visit to Moscow. “I think it’s wrong in many ways,” said Ernesto Araujo, who served as Balsonaro’s foreign minister until last year. From another point of view it is OK. However, in the face of impending crisis, it is not going well.

The most provocative step Putin can take is to provide military assistance or deploy weapons in the region. When asked about the possibility of Russia setting up military infrastructure in Venezuela or Cuba in mid-January, the Russian deputy foreign minister said he was not blowing up anything. Over the next few days, Putin held talks with leaders of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. The Kremlin says it has confirmed the countries’ strategic partnership with Russia.

The US State Department, however, dismissed the talk of deploying Russian weapons in Latin America as a threat. “If we see any movement in Latin America, we will respond quickly and appropriately,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for the State Department.

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Latin American analysts are skeptical of Russia’s deployment in the region. They think it will tarnish Russia’s image in the region. So far, however, Russia has been instrumental in arming its close allies in Latin America. Moscow has sold arms and tanks in Cuba and Nicaragua. It has also sold anti-missile systems and warships to Venezuela.

It has also held joint military exercises with Venezuela. U.S. officials suspect Russia is helping Venezuela’s military. The United States has also expressed concern about Russia’s interference in the Colombian election in May.

However, analysts believe that in the near future, Russia will provide significant diplomatic assistance to Russia from Latin America.