"Russia In The World" is a MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project review of Russia's geopolitical interests and areas of penetration. This installment will deal with Russia's relations with Latin American countries.
The original image was taken from Studiya 13's Facebook page.
Tillerson: Russia's Presence In Latin America Is Alarming
During a speech at the University of Texas at Austin on February 1, prior to his trip to Latin America, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that China and Russia are assuming "alarming" roles in Latin America.
Tillerson said: "… Latin America does not need new imperial powers that seek only to benefit their own people. China’s state-led model of development is reminiscent of the past. It doesn’t have to be this hemisphere’s future.
"Russia’s growing presence in the region is alarming as well, as it continues to sell arms and military equipment to unfriendly regimes, who do not share or respect democratic values.
"Our region must be diligent to guard against faraway powers who do not reflect the fundamental values shared in this region…"
(State.gov, February 1, 2018)
Russia's MFA: The Monroe Doctrine Continues To Hold Sway In Washington
In response to Tillerson's speech, the Russian MFA stated:
"We noted U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s speech at the University of Texas on U.S. policy in Latin America. The main takeaway is that the Monroe Doctrine continues to hold sway in Washington, even though it will turn 200 years old fairly soon, in 2023. The world has changed significantly over the years, but the America-for-Americans principle appears to be alive and well. Like President James Monroe in his time, Secretary Tillerson cited Russia to justify his conceptual framework, and so we would like to express our view of the region without arguing 'by contradiction.'
"We have also noted Latin America’s growing role in the modern world. We consider the region to be a distinctive civilizational component in the polycentric international order that is emerging. Latin America is increasing its participation and influence in current institutions of global governance – the UN, the G20, BRICS, and APEC. The Latin Americans are leading such important global forums as the WTO and FAO.
"During recent talks in the Kremlin, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Argentina Mauricio Macri discussed in detail our priorities for the activities of the G20. We sincerely wish success to Argentina during its Presidency.
"Russia’s relations with Latin American countries are based on substantial shared interests, such as the commitment to the principles of multilateral diplomacy embodied in the UN’s activities, protection and assertion of national sovereignty, and promotion of sustainable development. Russia and Latin American countries consider the deployment of weapons in space to be unacceptable, and reject any and all attempts to glorify Nazism.
"We are united in our belief that the unconstitutional change of government, extraterritorial application of national legislation, and sanctions pressure are unacceptable. We supported UNGA Resolution 70/149, 'Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order', and we are for the universal application of the democratic principles enshrined in the fundamental documents of integration associations in the Western Hemisphere.
"Respect for the sovereign equality of states and non-interference in internal affairs is an important part of democracy. The liberator (as he is referred to in Latin America) Simon Bolivar said that all states have the right to choose their own particular system of government, and other states must respect this choice. The Secretary of State will have the chance to read this eternally relevant quote, when he is in Bogota, at the main entrance to San Carlos Palace, which now houses the Colombian Foreign Ministry. It rings as true as ever today, including in relation to the situation in Venezuela and the dynamics of internal life in Cuba. The experience of half-a-century of U.S. embargo failed to convince only the most obstinate individuals that sanctions pressure will not work against freedom-loving countries and peoples.
"Our policy towards Latin America is open and not driven by ideology. There is no hidden agenda, and it is not directed against anyone. Latin American is an inherently valuable component of our country’s international activity.
"Our relations are multidimensional. We work together in the political arena. We promote trade and economic relations, including in high-tech areas, such as energy, transport, infrastructure, biotechnology, etc. We help train and provide advanced professional training to civilian specialists and law enforcement and first responders to natural disasters to raise the level of civil preparedness, combat illicit drug trafficking and transnational organized crime, and provide relief after emergencies. We are also developing cultural ties. We look forward to hosting national teams from eight Latin American countries during the World Cup.
"We are developing defense industry cooperation to the extent that there is mutual interest. Our approach is based on respect for the balance of forces in the region. Disrupting military-political stability, or provoking mistrust and conflict is unacceptable.
"We appreciate the region’s independence, the fact that its relations with Russia are based on a consensus of a wide range of political forces regardless of who is currently in power. For us, it is important for Latin America to be strong, economically stable and politically 'united in its diversity.' We will continue to work in the interest of promoting cooperation, building not walls but bridges for the benefit of our countries, their stability and sustainable development."
(Mid.ru, February 2, 2018)
Deputy FM Ryabkov: Washington Behaves Like A Spoiled Child
While in Cape Town, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov commented on Tillerson's speech. According to Ryabkov, the U.S. are alarmed at a rapprochement between Russia and Latin American countries, since the U.S. leadership is used to seeing this region as its own "backyard." Ryabkov said: "Nowadays, it is routine for Washington to throw a fit for the slightest reason like a spoiled child. When something is not the way it wants it to be, the image of a spoiled brat who jumps on the floor and starts kicking his feet in a tantrum for any reason at all comes to mind. It is neither serious nor dignified."
(Tass.com, February 7, 2018)
Russia's MFA Spokesperson Maria Zakharova criticized Tillerson's statements on Venezuela. During his speech in Texas, Tillerson suggested that the Venezuelan army could participate in “a peaceful transition” and depose Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro. Zakharova reiterated that Russia's position is that the Venezuelan crisis must be resolved in line with the existing constitutional and legal procedures. Zakharova said:
"Statements made by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who did not rule out that the military could participate in deposing the Government in Venezuela through the use of force, look utterly provocative from our point of view. This contradicts the statements on adherence to democracy and the commitments assumed by countries of the western hemisphere with regard for the unacceptability as well as impossibility of an unconstitutional change of the political system in Venezuela. Fortunately, the command of the Venezuelan Armed Forces firmly and intrinsically refuted this option.
"We would like to reaffirm Russia’s position, namely that matters concerning the internal development of Venezuela must be resolved exclusively by the people of that country in line with the existing constitutional and legal procedures on the basis of democratic norms and without destructive outside interference. We suppose that the best manifestation of free choice would be voting at polling stations. We believe that the task of all responsible political forces is to promote an organized and peaceful expression of the will of the people in Venezuela."
(Mid.ru, February 8, 2018)
Argentinian President Mauricio Macri with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. (Source: Kremlin.ru)
'[Argentinian President] Macri Expressed The Idea To Transform Argentina Into A Unique Link Between Russia And The Latin American Region'
The Russian think tank Valdai Discussion Club published an analysis by a MGIMO University professor and expert on Latin America, Vladimir Sudarev, titled "Russia-Argentina: Will The Strategic Partnership Continue?" ahead of Argentine President Mauricio Macri's visit to Russia (January 22-23). According to Sudarev, relations between the two countries were warmer under the presidency of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. However, Sudarev noted that Macri criticized the Western sanctions against Russia.
Below are excerpts from Sudarev's article:
"Russian - Argentine relations knew better times, than today, especially under the presidency of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (2007-2015). At that time, Argentina was simply attributed by the Russian Foreign Ministry to the category of strategic partners, along with some Latin American countries. In the full sense it was still premature to talk about this. Nevertheless, the positions of both sides coincided on a number of issues.
"The president of Argentina, unlike most other countries in the region, openly supported the will of the Crimea population and, accordingly, the re-unification of the peninsula with Russia. The trade turnover has clearly grown, reaching in 2012 a record number of over $ 1.5 billion. New areas of cooperation emerged, such as the construction of nuclear power plants in Argentina. In general, the obvious distancing of Argentina from the US has expanded the areas of dialogue and cooperation with Russia, in particular within the G20.
"With the advent of the neo-conservative Mauricio Macri in December 2015, Argentina's foreign policy has dramatically changed. A course was taken to overcome a certain isolation of the country, which was limited by the Common Market of the States of the South American Continent (Mercosur). Argentina developed relations mainly with the remaining leftist regional regimes (Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Bolivia).
"The government of Macri decided to restore relations with the West, and above all with the United States. In particular, it was announced that progress was made towards the signing of a free trade agreement with Washington, as well as joining the Pacific alliance initiated by the United States. Moreover, the policy of 'demalvinization' was proclaimed. The claims of Argentina over the UK-held Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), which are quite reasonable according to the international law, were at the center of the foreign policy of previous Argentine governments.
"As for relations with Russia, in a telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mauricio Macri after his election as president a mutual desire was expressed to 'expand the strategic alliance', as well as the interaction between the EAEU and Mercosur. Moreover, Macri assured his Russian counterpart, that Argentina is ready to become a reliable supplier of food for Russians in conditions of embargo imposed by the Western countries. At that time the trade turnover between the two countries was about $ 1 billion.
"A little later, the President of Argentina criticized the sanctions against Russia.
"Macri expressed the idea to transform Argentina into a unique link between Russia and the Latin American region, in particular, bringing Russia closer to the regional integration organizations such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Union of Latin American Nations (UNASUR).
"In an interview with the leading Argentine newspaper La Nacion, Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra noted that both states intensified their cooperation in the scientific and technical areas, in particular, in the exploration of the outer space. At the same time, during her visit to Moscow in April 2016, Malcorra confirmed the existence of a 'strategic partnership' between Russia and Argentina.
"Since then, almost two years have passed. A certain intensification of relations, in particular between the businessmen of the two countries, indeed did take place. A number of agro-industrial and energy projects have been proclaimed, which are still under negotiation. However, despite encouraging statements, especially from the Argentine side, the trade turnover in 2016 did not increase, but, according to Russian customs statistics, fell to 847 million dollars.
"So is it possible today to talk about a full-fledged strategic partnership? …"
(Valdaiclub.com, January 19, 2018)
See Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Argentina’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship Susana Malcorra, Mid.ru, April 13, 2016.
"Russia And Argentina At A New Stage Of A Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Building"
Alina Shcherbakova, Associate Professor at the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs and Head of the Iberoamerican Sector at HSE, in her article, titled "Russia And Argentina At A New Stage Of A Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Building", wrote about Moscow and Buenos Aires' joint determination to deepen cooperation within the framework of a comprehensive strategic partnership remains urgent.
Below are excerpts from the article, published by the Valdai Discussion Club:
"Among all the countries of Latin America, Argentina is Russia's longest-running big business partner. That country is constantly engaged in an active political dialogue, as well as in fairly wide cultural and humanitarian exchanges. The historical trajectory of bilateral contacts between Russia and Argentina, their structure and character far exceed the ties with any other Latin American state and resemble Russia's relations with countries such as Spain and Portugal. The relations between Argentina and Russia are based on a solid foundation of long-term interaction and cover all spheres of interstate cooperation: economy and trade, politics and diplomacy, military-technical cooperation, scientific, cultural and humanitarian ties.
"At present, Argentina occupies a prominent position among Latin American countries in terms of trade turnover, although its share in the total foreign trade turnover of Russia is relatively small (0.05% of exports in 2016). Russia is also not among the main trade and economic partners of Argentina (0.8% of exports in 2016). The trade balance remains negative for Russia, and the deficit tends to increase.
"It should be noted that modern Russian-Argentine trade has the following features:
• Growing negative balance for Russia in mutual trade. For the period from 1995 to 2016 the accumulated negative trade balance for Russia exceeded $ 8 billion. The growing imbalance in mutual trade is determined by the large purchases of food products from Argentina;
• Limited supplies of Russian goods, where the overwhelming share belongs to fuel and fertilizers.
• Predominance of agricultural and food products in the structure of Russian imports from Argentina (fresh fruit, vegetable oils, beef, wine, fish, juices, tobacco, etc.).
"It should be noted that contrary to the optimistic expectations of experts, in the first semester of 2017 the total volume of trade between Russia and Argentina grew insignificantly if compared to the volumes of the same period in 2016 (by 20%). This can be explained by the results of the active Russian policy of import substitution in the field of food products, which constitute the main articles of Argentine exports to Russia. Moreover, the prolonged weakening of the Russian ruble against the dollar and the euro played an important role, reducing the purchasing power of the Russian population and painfully affecting the competitiveness of Argentine goods on the Russian market. At the same time Russian analogs do not offer competition to Argentinean ones for a number of niche products (meat, seafood, vegetables), and therefore there was a significant increase of their imports.
"The determination of Moscow and Buenos Aires to deepen cooperation within the framework of a comprehensive strategic partnership remains urgent, as evidenced by the statements of Vladimir Putin and Mauricio Macri…
"As to mutual trade in 2018, we can expect an increase of goods, traditional for Russian-Argentine relations due to the growth of Russian supplies to Argentina of equipment for the petrochemical industry and fertilizers. In August 2017, Argentina abolished the import duty for Russian fertilizers due to the growth of domestic demand for phosphate fertilizers. Moreover, a further increase of niche food products supplies from Argentina to Russia is projected.
"However, despite the more than a century-long history of diplomatic relations, Argentina and Russia are at the very beginning of the road to achieve maximum usefulness from comprehensive strategic cooperation…"
(Valdaiclub.com, January 23, 2018)
Meeting Between Macri And Putin; Putin: 'Mr. Macri And I Reiterated Our Commitment To… The Comprehensive Strengthening Of Our Strategic Partnership'
Below are excerpts of Vladimir Putin's and Mauricio Macri's statements to the media:
Putin: "The talks with President of Argentina, Mr. Mauricio Macri, were marked by a businesslike and constructive atmosphere. We exchanged views on the entire range of issues of bilateral cooperation, outlined new goals and long-term benchmarks for cooperation, and touched upon important issues of the international agenda.
"Russia and Argentina are bound by a historically strong friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation. Relations between our countries were established back in 1885 and have always been based on the principles of respect and consideration of each other's interests.
During the talks, Mr. Macri and I reiterated our commitment to the progressive development of relations between our states, and the comprehensive strengthening of our strategic partnership.
"The Joint Statement that we have just signed includes a number of important agreements on expanding cooperation in key areas such as the economy, foreign policy, defense industry cooperation, and culture, to name a few.
"Of course, we discussed the search for the missing Argentinean submarine San Juan. Russia sincerely sympathises with the families and friends of the missing sailors. We ourselves are familiar with such tragedies.
"We readily responded to President Macri's request for assistance in the search for the boat. The Yantar oceanographic vessel of the Russian Navy and the underwater rescue vehicles Panther Plus and Falcon were promptly sent to the search area. Twenty dives were performed, and about 340 square miles of the seabed were surveyed. We provide other assistance to Argentina in clarifying the circumstances and causes of what happened.
"During the talks, we discussed bilateral economic cooperation in detail. Argentina is one of Russia's leading trade partners in Latin America. From January to November 2017, trade grew by 3.1 percent. The President of Argentina and I agreed to continue systemic efforts to develop trade and investment ties. These issues should be closely dealt with by the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, at its next meeting, which will be held in Moscow two weeks from now.
"It is also important to step up the work of the Council of Entrepreneurs of the two countries. Today, Mr. Macri met with the heads of major Russian companies, and he could personally see that our companies are interested in implementing joint projects with their Argentinean partners.
"Rosatom is proposing a nuclear power plant of Russian design in Argentina based on the latest and safest technological standards. Russian Railways is ready to join the program to modernize the railways of Argentina, and to supply modern rolling stock. Transmashholding and Sinara plan to invest in the construction of service facilities and the production of railway equipment. With Gazprom-Bank participation, a major logistics complex will be built at a port in Buenos Aires province. Power Machines services power units at five Argentine hydroelectric power plants and plans to participate in the bidding for the supply of equipment for six more HPPs.
"Russia and Argentina are establishing cooperation in the peaceful exploration of outer space. There are ideas on cooperation in the area of remote sensing of the Earth and satellite navigation. Roscosmos could share its experience in creating space equipment, and deliver rocket engines that are competitive and are still being supplied to many countries, including the United States, by the way, despite the restrictions we all know about. We are ready to supply special fuel as well.
"Mr. Macri and I touched on cultural contacts as well. In 2017, gala concerts by soloists from the Bolshoi Theatre, the Mariinsky Theatre and the Mikhailovsky Theatre from St Petersburg were successfully held in Argentina. A Russian Centre of Culture and Art called “Moscow” opened in a Buenos Aires suburb.
"In turn, Argentinean theatre plays were included in the Chekhov International Theatre Festival program in Moscow. Tango dancers from Argentina participated in the Moscow International Contest of Ballet Dancers and Choreographers. Films by Argentinean directors were shown at the 39th International Moscow Film Festival.
"I invited the President of Argentina to come to Russia again in summer for the World Cup. Of course, we look forward to Argentinean fans coming to our country and supporting their team, which is certainly one of the favourites in the upcoming championship.
"During our exchange of views on the global and regional agendas, the President and I said that we were on the same page regarding most matters.
"We intend to expand coordination with our Argentinean partners in international organizations, such as the UN and the World Trade Organization; and to promote our ties in integration associations, such as the Eurasian Economic Union and the South American Common Market.
"Russia will participate in the G20 summit, which will be held in Argentina this year. We share Argentina’s priorities in the G20 and are committed to practical cooperation as we strive to promote them.
"In closing, I would like to thank Mr President, and all our Argentine colleagues and friends for their productive joint work during this visit. I am convinced that it will contribute to the further development of bilateral ties between Russia and Argentina..."
Macri: "Once again, I would like to thank Mr. President for the invitation.
"When we met a year and a half ago, we agreed how important an integrated strategic partnership between our countries is. This is my first official visit to Russia, but I hope it will be the first of many. I also want to thank you for Russia’s love and warmth to Argentina and for helping in the search for the San Juan submarine. We deeply appreciated that effort.
"I am confident that Argentina and Russia have common interests in our various relations; we must continue in energy, culture, sports, technology, and military technical cooperation. Today we discussed all this and found that there are so many areas in which we could cooperate, and this cooperation will undoubtedly create even more opportunities for our peoples. This is in tune with the changes that Argentina is living through, which is now beginning its adaptation to the world and wants to materialize my commitment, the most important commitment as the Argentine President – to reduce poverty and provide opportunities for all.
"As we take on the G-20 presidency, we are determined to show that Argentina is not only a representative, but Argentina is also an entire region, which is a peaceful region that offers many opportunities in the food industry, energy, and especially in renewable energy. And, as we said before, we hope that our countries will complement each other. Our countries are complementary. This should lead to an increase in trade.
"Argentina has entered the global arena with a view to participating in these global interests. We hope that we will work together in the fight against terrorism and in security. As we see, our agenda is very dynamic, and is full of opportunities. As you said, I had breakfast with representatives of several major Russian companies this morning. We are now opening an agro-industrial representation office in Moscow, Russia. This is our fifth such unit in the world. We are confident that we can be a food supplier to Russia, and can also exchange technology to increase and promote production in Russia.
"I thank you once again. This meeting should give impetus to cooperation. And, as we said, I really hope to visit here again; I would like to come with my daughter Antonia, who never stops talking about the World Cup – I would like to attend the final match. I hope that we will play in the final match and that we are more fortunate than Brazil. But the most important thing is, of course, to participate in the competition. Our Lord and Messi will decide if we can win the World Cup.
"I am very grateful that we have done some very intensive and productive work…"
(Kremlin.ru, January 23, 2018)
- MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7331, Russia In The World – Russia In Latin America, February 13, 2018.
- MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6906, Russia In The World – Russia-Latin America Relations, May 4, 2017.
- MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6576, Russia In The World - Russia-Latin America Relations: The Case Of Nicaragua, August 15, 2016.
- MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6903, Russia's Support For The Venezuelan Regime – An Update, May 2, 2017.
- MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6926, Russia To Become Second-Largest Foreign Owner Of U.S. Domestic Refineries, If Venezuela Defaults, May 16, 2017.