With the exception of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, Latin America has turned its back on Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. But according to experts, Putin’s strategy in the region is part of his global vision of foreign policy. He wants to diversify his relations to counter US power, create a multipolar international order, and in this new order, Russia would regain its status as a global player .
Strengthened by the ties born during the pandemic thanks to health care, Russia’s presence in Latin America, based above all on commercial but also political-military relations, has lasted for decades. Among the main allies would be Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, Bolivia, Brazil and Argentinaof which the first three took sides “for ideological and transactional interests”.
Russia’s will for multilateralism – and to oppose US leadership – is also shared by China, which in recent years has become a key player in Latin America. While the war drums were being heard in Ukraine, Russia had made a frenzied diplomatic deployment to the continent to seek allies. Before the conflict broke out, Vladimir Putin had received his Brazilian counterpart, Jair Bolsonaro, and even before that, the Argentine Alberto Fernandez, who had even offered him a “gateway” to the continent. That same week, Nicaraguan President Ortega discussed economic and military issues with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov. Russia two months ago threatened the United States with military deployment to Cuba and Venezuela,
Professor Evan Ellis, of the Institute for Strategic Studies at the US, says that Russia has “improvised a threat to demonstrate its ability to militarily project itself into the region.” of oil and the financial system – adds Hillis – Russia probably will not have the resources or the logistical capacity to sustain a significant military presence “in the Americas for a very long time”.
We talked about it with Gianni La Bella , Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Modena, Community of Sant’Egidio – Latin America. What does Putin’s expansion in Latin America entail in the face of a new global political and economic scenario
Latin America and a strategic continent for Russian foreign policy, began in the 1960s, during the Cuban missile crisis. Recently Putin has strengthened his presence on the continent, counting on some historical allies such as Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Argentina, Brazil and, in a certain sense, Bolivia, the official partner of the Russian government in the construction of the highest nuclear power plant in the world, have also ended up in his sphere of influence. While the Chinese presence in the area has economic horizons linked to the trade of raw materials and the export of technology as its priority objectives, the Russians also have a geopolitical ambition. So it’s not just the economic interest that drives him to Latin America,In your opinion, what are Russia’s strategic objectives on the Continent
? Certainly that of setting foot or trampling the flowers in the North American backyard from an economic and military point of view. It is a goal that Russia has been pursuing for some time. With the recent visit of the president of Brazil and Argentina to Moscow, cooperation is also assumed in the military field. This seems like a new aspect to me. A series of agreements have been made whereby Russia will supply war material to these two countries with military training within the navy. What impact the US and EU sanctions against Russia are having on the economies of Latin America
If they still don’t hear them, they will soon feel. We must keep in mind that Latin America is emerging from a frightening economic crisis produced in particular by the pandemic that has created a truly impressive level of unemployment in the continent, inflicting a sharp slowdown on its economic growth. Many countries thrive on the exchange of raw materials, especially oil and historic copper. Not to mention the size of tourism and trade at this level, where, for example, a country like Cuba will pay heavily. Putin needs Latin America to prove his military might or is he just cornering the US to have NATO around Ukraine
I don’t think Putin needs this, but undoubtedly the countries of Latin America can in a sense represent an outlet for his military hegemony. The possibility of Russia using military bases in Venezuela as a dock for its fleet has been repeatedly feared, and this is obviously something that has raised US concerns. Putin is more interested in Latin American countries to choose political positions in solidarity with Russia and in criticizing the United States as much as possible. Putin aspires to undermine the historic, albeit critically problematic, alliance between Latin America and North America. It is a strategy that aims at more political than military ambitions. What possible scenarios open up with the presence of Russia and China in Latin America
This re-proposes the urgent need to refocus in the Region the fundamental unresolved issues that have been agitating Latin American politics for years. In some respects there is a problem similar to what is being experienced in Europe with respect to the Ukrainian crisis: a historic nationalistic rivalry between countries and the lack of a ground for continental regional cooperation. A scenario of political influences from Russia and more commercial influences from China would open, which will undermine stability and sovereignty as is already the case in other countries. Honduras, for example, is a small but significant country that China is using not only in an anti-Taiwan function, but also as a Trojan horse to push Latin American countries to break diplomatic relations with Taiwan, thus having Beijing as its only interlocutor. This is theAccording to her, the time has come for the US government to change its attitude towards Latin American countries
Absolutely! I believe that the time has really come. Pope John Paul II wisely already spoke of a single continent. I think that for the first time North Americans and South Americans find themselves facing a series of common problems: I am thinking of the problem of the climate challenge, immigration, human rights, the problem of strategic reserves of some raw materials. On this there is no longer a North America and a South America. The Obama presidency had already focused on it in the Alliance for Prosperity program which has gone on bearing some positive fruit for example towards Cuba. Obama’s presidency, Joe Biden was the architect of the reconciliation between North America and Brazil. Today the Biden administration will have to return to a scenario of equal and equal cooperation with the countries of Latin America, without ideological blocks and without discrimination. I think Biden’s government is willing at this moment to implement a policy of neutrality towards Venezuela, instead more critical against Nicaragua which I think has chosen a policy of silence in international relations, a total closure that demonstrates its absolute incapacity. to find and resolve fields of understanding and dialogue at any level.There is interest on the part of the Joe Biden government in dialoguing with countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia that already have preferential relations with Russia
These countries have very peculiar relations with Russia, they are not homogeneous, they are differentiated relations, some of very long standing, such as Cuba, others closely linked to energy interests, such as Bolivia. Of course, the United States cannot afford to lose this historic ally. The United States fear as an emerging country, or see as a third wheel, not so much Russia but China. The latter can create problems, because the Americans hope that the Latin American continent can be an important component in the framework of this multilateral world.So there is a paradigm shift of the American administration towards the continent of Hope
. Latin America is not an indifferent territory, it does not represent only the backyard for the United States. It is a continent that is increasingly acquiring an autonomous voice and political weight in the international scenario. So it is no longer just a kind of added value of extensive physical relevance of the United States, they will no longer be the solitary guardians of the world, they need to share their responsibility and Latin America, with its 800 million inhabitants, can become a very important condominium in the management of the condominium in the world, not just a mere tenant.

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