An agreement aimed to boost military cooperation between Russia and Argentina was reached on the 18th of March. The agreement followed negotiations between the Russian Deputy Defense Minister, Anatoly Antonov, and Argentinean Ambassador to Moscow Pablo Tettamanti. The agreement is unlikely to expand collaboration immediately but suggests an expanding Russian interest in Latin America while Argentina seeks to foster relations in the face of mounting economic weakness and pressure from Euro Atlantic states.
During last July’s visit to Argentina, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Argentinean President Cristina Kirchner. One of the principal topics discussed in that occasion was a strategic alliance aimed to reduce US influence in the region.
Since the visit, the two states have continued negotiating the opportunity. Argentina is seeking new “strategic partners” given the sinking economic conditions that show little sign of recovery. Buenos Aires must prop up its public finances liquidity amid an ongoing dispute over debt repayment after the country’s 2001 default. On the other side, Russia is out to find alternative suppliers for agro-commodities in the face of sanctions and counter-sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine.
Military cooperation serves two purposes that open the door for both Kirchner and Putin to achieve the above goals. President Kirchner’s government faces significant political opposition, and nationalist rhetoric serves to shore up popular support.
Meanwhile, British concerns have been raised by both the Russian-Argentine agreement and Buenos Aires ongoing negotiations with Beijing for the purchase of 24 fighter jets that may signal renewed aggression toward the British Falklands. As a result, the UK just announced reinforcement of the military garrison on the Falklands.
Putin is interested in using tensions in Latin America to strengthen its position vis-à-vis Euro Atlantic interests and gaining alternative trade routes. His July 2014 visit included an offer to lease Sukhoi aircraft in exchange for Argentine agricultural commodities, and is indicative of wider interest in the region.
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