Russia signs accords with Peru in new Latin American thrust


Lima : Russia has concluded a series of treaties with Peru on defence, trade and scientific cooperation, in what is being seen as a sign of its renewed Latin American thrust, EFE reported Tuesday.

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The accords, signed Monday during the state visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the Andean nation, are intended to launch “a second chapter” in the post-Soviet era in their bilateral relations and promote future trade, according to Peruvian President Alan Garcia.

Among the agreements reached was one on military cooperation that provides for building of a plant in Peru for repair and servicing of the Russian-built helicopters of the the Peruvian armed forces.

Medvedev, who arrived in Lima last Friday to attend the summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum, said that these pacts are a step forward towards promoting bilateral economic contacts.

The Russian president said that both nations were looking forward to promoting cooperation in the fields of energy, hydrocarbons, mining, the space industry and nuclear power.

Russia, which turned away from the region following the collapse of the Soviet Union, has been looking to rebuild its relations with Latin America with the same speed it is trying to strengthen its ties with China.

After the summit in Lima, Medvedev is to travel to Brazil, Venezuela and Cuba, his first Latin American tour as president. In Caracas, he is likely to seal new arms deals worth billions of dollars.

While China is primarily seeking to consolidate its economic ties with Latin America, Russia is focusing on the arms business and is trying to cement relations with the countries of the region critical of the US like Cuba and Venezuela.

Russia’s economic entry into Latin America is only just starting, for example through Gazprom’s cooperation with Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA.

The presence and prestige of the US in Latin America has been weakened under the eight-year Bush administration. The deepening global financial crisis, which started off in the US, has further weakened the hold of the only superpower that survived the Cold War in its effort to lead a unipolar world.

Former Russian president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, has insisted that Latin America has become a key element in the development of a multipolar world and therefore focus of post-Soviet Russian foreign policy.

Venezuela bought Russian weapons worth $4.4 billion between 2005 and 2008. Military cooperation with Cuba, naval manoeuvres off the Venezuelan coast and flights of long-range Russian nuclear-capable fighter planes are new elements of moscow’s thrust to the region.

Moscow is also stepping up its activities in the region in the wake of US plans for a radar and missile-interception system in Central Europe and as US ally Georgia seeks to join NATO.

Washington, in turn, reactivated its Fourth Fleet in the Caribbean and the South Atlantic.