Monday, July 01, 2019

Russian Threats in Latin America

A lengthy white paper written for the Joint Chiefs of Staff  (text shared by Politico here) addresses the failure of the U.S. to counter Russian foreign policy globally. The Latin America part was written by Evan Ellis, who has written a lot on China and who typically I find on the hawkish side (though not alarmist). However, I agree largely with his take on Russia, which is that its influence is restricted and unlikely to grow much. It doesn't hand out cash like China, and outside a few countries there is little interest in engagement. The thrust of the assessment is that China has a far greater presence in Latin America than Russia does. Further, Russia is concentrated in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. Its reach is therefore quite limited, though it gets a bit of a propaganda boost from outlets like RT.

In contrast to China, which uses access to its markets and the possibility of loans and investment as tools of soft power, Russian ability to exert influence through economic resources, either by providing aid or denying commercial transactions, is minimal. Even among its friends, Russia’s ability to exert influence in the region is limited.
Like so many much-touted threats extra-hemispheric threats, we should keep an eye on Russia's activities but they are threatening U.S. security.


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