The Russian Defense Minister, Army General Sergey Shoigu, has affirmed that Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, Russia’s allies in Latin America, require “now more than ever” the support of Moscow to face what he has cataloged as ” threats “, including” the open use of military force “against those nations, which maintain a tense relationship with the United States. Shoigu has not specified whether the three countries have officially made a request for aid, but in a speech given on Wednesday during a conference on international security held in Moscow, the minister referred to the military support that the power has previously given to its members. Latin American allies.
Political crisis in Nicaragua
“Historically we have established association relations with Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and other countries. They have been resisting various forms of pressure, even the threat of the open use of military force for many years. Russia’s support is required now more than ever, “the official said in remarks. released by the state agency Tass. Shoigu also made reference to the support that Russia can give the region to fight organized crime. His statements are given on the same day that the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate approved a law, baptized as RENACER, which imposes sanctions on Daniel Ortega’s regime in Nicaragua. The rule includes a section that allows the Biden Administration to gather intelligence information on Russia’s activities and interests in the Central American country.
The Ortega government has developed a close relationship with Russia since the Sandinista returned to power in 2007. In fact, one of the first – and few – visits that Ortega has made abroad as president was to Moscow in December 2008. This fueled old resentments in Washington, given that the former Soviet Union was a strategic ally of Nicaragua at the time of the Sandinista revolution, in the eighties. “The support of Moscow and the countries of Eastern Europe were fundamental at the time of the revolution to sustain the internal conflict. Russia provided weapons and training and other resources for that war, although we have never known exactly the amounts or resources that were managed with that help, ”explains Nicaraguan sociologist Elvira Cuadra, specialist in conflict analysis and security.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stunned in 2014 when he paid a surprise visit to Managua as part of his Latin American tour. Putin was received on that occasion at the International Airport of the Nicaraguan capital by Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, in addition to senior officials from the Army and the National Police. Ortega, who welcomed Putin with the embrace of comrades, had already winked at Moscow to show his loyalty: it was one of the few countries to recognize the independence of the separatist Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Ortega also backed Putin’s policy on the Ukraine crisis and criticized the sanctions imposed by the West against Moscow at the time.
In exchange for these diplomatic support, the Russian leader financed a military training center for the fight against drug trafficking that has been built in Managua, as well as aid for the strengthening and modernization of the Army and 26 million dollars to deal with natural disasters. Eight years later, in 2016, Russia officially reported that it was sending to Nicaragua a first batch of 20 T-72B war tanks, out of a total of 50, at a cost of 80 million dollars, under the so-called agreement of “ technical-military cooperation ”between both nations. The Russian information agency RIA Novosti He assured that Russia had already supplied the Central American country with 12 ZU-23-2 antiaircraft defense systems, two Mi-17V-5 helicopters, as well as “a batch” of armored vehicles. The orders from Nicaragua to Russia included four patrol boats, at a cost of approximately $ 45 million. In 2019, in the midst of the crisis unleashed by Ortega’s repression against the protests that demanded the end of his mandate, Putin sent a letter in which he called the ex-guerrilla “dear friend, brother” and assured that Nicaragua “will always be able to count on the help from Russia ”.
“There was no explanation to understand the reason for the purchase of those Russian tanks, or where the funds came from,” explains Cuadra. “There have been military personnel who are receiving training in Russia in military schools and exchanges of military personnel between the two countries are also maintained,” he says. Shoigu’s statements, the expert continues, “constitute a political endorsement of Ortega and the Nicaraguan Army” when the Managua regime is isolated internationally and suffers sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union. “The RENACER law has included a specific point of interest in relation to Nicaragua and Russia and marks a series of issues that the United States will be monitoring, mainly military relations, because [la ley] it allows the United States to request periodic reports on how these relations are managed ”, explains Elvira Cuadra. “Shoigu’s statements place Nicaragua once again in the spotlight of the alarms in Latin America and particularly in the United States. These statements are likely to raise Washington’s level of concern in Central America, which may fall back into a perverse pattern of disputes between powers, “the analyst concludes.
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