Russia’s Return to Nicaragua Worrying Many in Central America, Washington

Photo Credit: McClatchy DC

Photo Credit: McClatchy DC

Russia is rekindling its once-strong ties to Nicaragua, possibly including providing the Central American nation with jet fighters, stoking unease as far away as the Andes in South America.

Later this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will arrive in Nicaragua as part of a swing through four Latin American nations, the culmination to a series of high-level Russian visits to this Central American nation in the past year. Last month, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu paid a two-day visit, and in January the head of Russia’s upper house of Parliament arrived. Russian leader Vladimir Putin visited in June.

The rumored provision of the Russian jet fighters to Nicaragua has spawned fears of an arms race in Central America and once again made Nicaragua a bit player in the geopolitical to-and-fro between Washington and Moscow.

The chief spokesman for the Sandinista Front on international matters, National Assembly Deputy Jacinto Suárez, defended the possible acquisition of the fighter planes on Thursday and said Nicaragua’s relations with Russia have taken “a qualitative leap.”

“Everyone has the right to defend their national sovereignty. Why should anyone feel threatened by this?” Suárez said at a news conference, declining to confirm whether Nicaragua would obtain the aircraft and adding that they might come as a donation rather than a purchase. (Read more from “Russia’s Return to Nicaragua Worrying Many in Central America” HERE)

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