Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Russia, Ukraine & Latin America

The Russian foreign minister is in Latin America to drum up support for its actions in Ukraine and to oppose U.S. sanctions levied against it. The trip includes Cuba, Nicaragua, Peru, and Chile.

These choices are interesting. Yes, the first two are obvious--Cuba in particular basically orients its foreign policy to be the mirror image of the United States. But so does Venezuela, which is absent. Why? Do the protests interfere with foreign relations?

Further, neither Peru nor Chile is likely to rock the boat with the United States over Ukraine, where the aggression is already clearly on the Russian side and so the U.S. position isn't terribly controversial. You would expect more sympathy in Bolivia and Ecuador, for example, which are also excluded.

On the other hand, Russia has wooed both countries with various trade and defense deals so this trip could reinforce those while at the very least feeling them out for support for its Ukraine policy.

An article in Chile's El Mostrador argues that the trip is intended as a message to the United States that Russia will come to its backyard as tit for tat. Maybe, though this choice of countries is an odd way of doing it, especially since Russia is unlikely to come away with anything it can wave in President Obama's face: "Hey Obama, look! Raúl Castro and Daniel Ortega said something bad about you, just like they always do!"


boz,  12:59 PM  

It's not about UN votes or symbolic condemnations but about money. Both Chile and Peru have real money to spend on defense industry and both have purchased from Russian suppliers in the past. Promoting the defense sales is a big part of Russia's foreign policy. Russia wants to drum up business and make sure they don't lose business due to the Ukraine controversy. I'm sure some US defense companies have already been knocking doors encouraging Chile and Peru's military to avoid new Russian purchases as they may fall under future sanctions. Russia wants to push back against that view.

Greg Weeks 6:35 AM  

But that doesn't explain why go to Nicaragua but not to Brazil

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