Vladimir Putin's week-long visit to Latin America was marked with the conclusion of major economic projects. One can see Russia's wish to restore the military-political alliance with Cuba and Nicaragua, with an eye to move further south, to the giants of the continent - Brazil and Argentina. Russia needs alternatives and allies in the Western Hemisphere.
Tensions on the border with Ukraine did not stop Putin from making an unprecedented week-long visit to Latin America. This proves the importance of the region to Russia again. It goes about the geopolitical shift of Russian interests to the West. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the Americans have been used to the fact that in Latin America, Russia has no interests. However, it turns out that such interests are quite large. Putin's visit to Cuba was especially important at this point. Cuba has been living under the sanctions of its influential northern neighbor for more than 50 years already. Prior to the visit, the Russian State Duma ratified an agreement to write off the multibillion-dollar debt to Cuba.
"After the demarche in the early 2000s, when we completely left Cuba, we had quite an idealistic policy - to give away all we could, in a hope that Americans would notice that, thank us and respond adequately, - Victoria Legranova, former employee of the U.S. armed forces, security analyst told Pravda.Ru. - The Americans behave differently. The more you give, the more they think you're weak, and they start to suppress you even more. This trip is very important. Russia needs alternatives and diversification in all areas. This is an economic dialogue so far, but in any case, the political and military dialogue takes place as well," the expert said.
In Cuba, Nicaragua, Argentina and Brazil, important economic agreements were signed. They are real investment projects, rather than onerous treaties of the IMF for the implementation of mythical reforms that lead to the sale of state property and credit enslavement of recipient countries. In Cuba, with the participation of Russia, two heat and power stations will be built or modernized, as well as an airport and a port. In Nicaragua, Russia will take part in the construction of a trans-Atlantic channel. In Argentina and Brazil - in the construction of nuclear power plants. In all of the above-mentioned countries, agreements were signed on the participation of Russian companies in the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas. Cooperation in the field of energy is especially important as an important link in strategic security.
Russia has finally come to the realization that it should make a comeback to Cuba, especially when the Cuban administration supports Russia in all issues of foreign policy, including the Crimea. Russia needs Cuba to create a military base there to maintain its ships, submarines and aircraft. Russia needs Cuba to rebuild the balance of power that the country had in the region during the Soviet times. This is especially important to create parity of potential threats in the confrontation with the United States.
"One does not need to build dozens of naval bases to ensure full-fledged presence in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Two or three bases would be enough to ensure permanent presence," Victoria Legranova told Pravda.Ru.
Steps in this direction have been taken. In May of this year, the Security Council of the Russian Federation and the Council of National Defense of Cuba signed a memorandum of cooperation and agreed to establish a joint work group. During Putin's visit to the country, an agreement was signed on the modernization of the sea port of Mariel. Russia will also modernize the airport in the nearby city of San Antonio de los Banos, to make it become a modern international airport cargo terminal. This is a prototype of a military transport hub.
In Cuba and other countries of the region - Nicaragua, Argentina, Brazil - Putin negotiated issues related to either the construction or development of GLONASS positioning systems. This implies not only the promotion of Russian advanced technologies, but also an opportunity to track potential U.S. targets. "The fact that there are agreements on GLONASS is good news. Installing this equipment is very easy. A box of equipment will be hugely beneficial to Russia," Alexander Shirokorad, a military expert and publicist told Pravda.Ru.
For partner countries of the Russian Federation, this diversification is also extremely important. If, for example, the international community disables GPS in Argentina because of its position on the Maldives, the country will switch to GLONASS. Incidentally, the audience applauded to Putin, when he used the Argentine, not the Anglo-Saxon name of the islands. "This system allows to determine the location of, for example, units of troops, location of ships, armored columns. It allows to conduct accurate missile strikes. That is, this system will increase the combat efficiency of the armed forces of Argentina," Vladimir Yevseyev, the director of the Center for Public Political Studies told Pravda.Ru.
"I think that this is one of the possible answers of Russia to this unprecedented pressure on Russia that is being put in connection with the Ukrainian crisis. But Russia, of course, is not obliged to bring everything down to military and technical cooperation. Economic projects will cause damage to the United States, because Cuba is still under sanctions, and Russia will help the development of the Cuban economy, thus acting against U.S. national interests."
Russia's goal is to win the support of Brazil and Argentina. Economic cooperation may evolve into the supply of vital resources to Argentina, including military technology, especially defense, where Brazil already has its interest. The Defense Ministry of Brazil, for example, asked Russian company Almaz-Antey to develop a system of air and space defense.
Putin also met with the Uruguayan President. Jose Mujica looks for investors for the construction of a deepwater port in the South Atlantic, quite far from the U.S.. Austrian publication Der Standart wrote that the port may become a haven for "the beginning of Russia's strategic expansion."
In general, the results of this and previous trips of Vladimir Putin (to China) demonstrated that "isolating Russia from the world," was impossible, even though Obama was trumpeting about it. The countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America seek cooperation opportunities with new and strong Russia that has capital to invest in emerging economies. Building a new security system in the world is impossible without military-technical cooperation with the countries of the Western Hemisphere. If the U.S. missile defense system is moving towards Russian borders, then why can't the same system be deployed near U.S. borders?
According to Medvedev, Ukraine's GDP may fall by another 5-10 percent in 2023 due to the continuation of the special military operation