What Interests Does Russia Have in Latin America?

In the midst of the conflict in which Russia and Ukraine are involved, the Russians pay more attention to Latin America. Why?


Photo: Presidential Press and Information Office

LatinAmerican Post | Nicolás Donoso Álvarez

Russia is experiencing months of much turmoil due to the conflict in which it has been involved with Ukraine and that could escalate even more. But for Russia not everything is reduced to this problem. In recent times Russia has approached Latin America, which has not been well seen by the United States.

It should be remembered that historically Russia has always been present in the region, particularly thanks to the closeness it has with nations such as Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua; which has allowed it to reach agreements through the strategic cooperation it has with these countries in social, cultural, technological and military matters.

For example, Venezuela is one of Russia’s most important trade allies and the relationship between the two nations is very strong. So powerful is the bond that, in the face of the prolonged Venezuelan crisis, the Russians have supported Venezuela militarily on more than one occasion.

However, geopolitics allows Russia to increase its influence in the region, as the United States has always done and what China has recently reinforced. And this is because one of Vladimir Putin’s greatest ambitions is to return Russia to its status as a hegemonic power. Additionally, in the region, many governments have found in Putin an excellent ally to turn to when the United States closes the door on them.

Argentina and Brazil approach Russia

The expansive gaze that Putin has had since he was in the Kremlin includes, without a doubt, Latin America, since it is understood that it is an area where the United States and China have much greater power than any other country, both continentally and globally. Both are considered as the two great economic powers today. This Russia suffers because it has lost its influence and has only been able to maintain its military power.

Along the same lines, the president of Argentina Alberto Fernández has stated that Argentina should be “Russia’s gateway” in Latin America and that the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, meets with Vladimir Putin in Russia and says that “we are in solidarity with Russia and we are very willing to collaborate in various areas”, they are not a coincidence at all.

But they are not only the two main economies of South America. The head of state of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, also stated that they are “very enthusiastic about being able to strengthen the relationship with Russia, we are facing a world with new challenges and opportunities, and we want to take advantage of those opportunities.”

Nor is it an isolated case that, when the vaccination process began on the continent against COVID-19 and there was a shortage of vaccines as a result of the wealthier countries keeping a large part of the doses, the Russian Sputnik V vaccine was one of the first to arrive in countries such as Argentina, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Paraguay, and Bolivia.

This aid allowed all the countries mentioned above not to further delay the immunization process in the midst of the worst moments of the pandemic and to avoid further collapses in the health systems. A good move by Russia, as all these nations realized how beneficial it can be to have a good relationship with this superpower.

It is difficult to know Putin’s plans, but one thing is clear, he understands that the world is increasingly globalized, and that great agreements must be reached. It is known that Russia has lost international influence and the only way to recover that predominance seems to be diplomatic presence and actions.

The implications range from the economic level with the consensus that Russia could reach with the Latin countries to a lesser dependence of these nations on the United States. Thus, Russia will gain a greater role and gradually recover its role in the territory.

Iván Duque’s criticism and the conflict between Russia and NATO

But not all Latin American countries agree with The presence of Russia on the continent is a good thing, and the fact is that the president of Colombia, Iván Duque, has been very critical of the arms support that China and Russia have given to the regime of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela.

Also read: A solution to avoid a war in Ukraine

Duque has recently said on his tour of Europe that “What happens in Venezuela is not geopolitical. What is really happening in Venezuela is a horrendous situation of a regime that sponsors the most brutal murders in Colombia in recent history.”

All this said in relation to the “protection” that the coffee president has insinuated that Venezuela has with members of the dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and with members of the National Liberation Army (ELN).

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