May 4, 2017 Special Dispatch No. 6906

Russia In The World – Russia-Latin America Relations

May 4, 2017
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 6906

Russia In The World is a MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project review of Russia's geopolitical interests and areas of penetration. This edition of Russia In The World deals with Russia's interests in Latin America.[1]

The original image was taken from Studiya 13's Facebook page.

Recently, the Russian media outlet Pravda published an interview with Andrey Frolov, editor-in-chief of Export of Arms magazine, on defense cooperation between Russia and Latin American countries. Alexander Denisov, head of the department for marketing activities at Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, explained that "Russia's Latin American friends" are interested in Russian aircraft and helicopters, as well as in air defense equipment and equipment for ground forces.[2] Denisov told the Russian news agency that Mexico plans to buy a new batch of Russia's Mi-17 military transport helicopters, and stated: "Helicopters of the Mi-17 type are actively used by the Mexican defense and law enforcement agencies... The Mexican side is planning to buy a new batch of such helicopters from Russia and is considering the proposals prepared by us." He stressed that Russia had also offered Mexico Mi-35M and Mi-28NE combat helicopters.

On the issue of Mexico purchasing Russian helicopters, Russian expert Sergey Sudakov commented: "Bolstering military cooperation with Mexico is very beneficial for us. First of all, this is a matter of prestige – we actually outrun the U.S. at their traditional arms market. Secondly, it's real money. And not only for the military hardware itself, but also for its maintenance in the years to come, training of specialists and so on. And thirdly, the deal with Mexico is a good advertisement of our weapons in Latin America."[3]

Denisov also mentioned that Rosoboronexport was ready to supply Russian helicopters to Bolivia, Chile, and Paraguay. Moreover, Rosoboronexport expects to open helicopter maintenance centers in several Latin American countries in 2018. Denisov said: "Such a service center is being created in Brazil, and we are working under an offset program... We hope that the maintenance of the first helicopter [in such a facility] would take place end of 2018... Possibly, the launch of the maintenance center in Peru will take place in 2018."[4]

In an interview with the Russian news agency Tass, Denisov also noted that "some Latin American countries have already sent their applications for the purchase of Russian Yak-130 combat training aircraft." He added that the air forces of some Latin American countries "are also looking for ways to purchase MiG-29M, Su-30MK2 and Be-200 planes in Russia," although "not everything is as simple as one would like."[5]

It is worth noting that Rosoboronexport delivered armaments and military hardware worth over $10 billion to Latin America, since its establishment in 2000.[6]

Below are excerpts of the Pravda interview with Frolov:[7]


Frolov: 'Venezuela Is Still Russia's Biggest Customer In Latin America In The Post-Soviet Period'

Q: "Russia has been intensifying military-technical cooperation with Latin American countries. What types of weapons do Latin American countries buy?"

Frolov: "Latin American countries do not purchase assault weapons from Russia. They do not purchase tactical missiles and bomber aircraft either. Venezuela is a special case at this point. During the presidency of Hugo Chavez, Russia signed many contracts with Venezuela. Venezuela used to buy offensive weapons from Russia. Those were Su-30 fighter jets, multiple-launch rocket systems, artillery systems, air defense systems. Venezuela is still Russia's biggest customer in Latin America in the post-Soviet period. Unfortunately, Venezuela has not been buying much from Russia lately - the country currently repairs what we have supplied there before.

"In general, Russia supplies transport helicopters of the Mi-17 family, combat helicopters Mi-35, ground troops hardware (tanks) and portable anti-aircraft missile systems Igla to the region. Unfortunately, Russia has not signed a contract with Brazil yet for the delivery of 'Pantsir' anti-aircraft systems. This year, it was rumored that Argentina was intended to send us an inquiry for the purchase of MiG-29 fighters. Cuba does not buy anything from Russia now either."

Q: "Who is Moscow's main competitor in the field of military-technical cooperation on the Latin American market?"

Frolov: "They are the same countries as on other markets: the U.S., France and China."

Q: "What competitive advantages does the Russian military equipment have?"

Frolov: "First of all, Russian military equipment is known in many countries around the world. Secondly, it is reliable and relatively cheap. Thirdly, Russia is ready to discuss various means of payment, including loans. To crown it all, Russia's customers are satisfied with technical characteristics of our products."

Q: "Does Russia provide technical support for its equipment in Latin American countries?"

Frolov: "Yes. For example, Russian Helicopters will have a service center in Brazil. Sometimes, as in the case of Venezuela, Russia repairs military hardware and aircraft in Russia."

Q: "With which countries of Latin America does Russia conduct most dynamic cooperation?"

Frolov: "It used to be Venezuela. Now, unfortunately, Venezuela does not purchase new weapons. Nicaragua and Brazil are active partners. Argentina is a regular customer as well. Mexico is on the list of our customers, but this country does not buy much."

(Source:, April 24, 2017)


[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6576, Russia In The World – Russia-Latin America Relations: The Case Of Nicaragua, August 15, 2016.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6903, Russia's Support For The Venezuelan Regime – An Update, May 2, 2017.

[2], April 27, 2017.

[3], May 3, 2017.

[4], May 3, 2017.

[5], April 28, 2017.

[6], April 28, 2017.

[7], April 27, 2017.

Share this Report: