Ecuador is pushing for closer cooperation with Moscow, putting Russian-Latin American relations under the spotlight.
The Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa is on a two-day visit to Moscow, the first by a leader from his country since 1964. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said: “We are in favour of a multipolar world in which the interests of all countries are taken into account, and at the same time using recognised international organisations. In recent years, relations between Russia and Latin American states have become closer. And Ecuador is one of our strategic partners in Latin America.” Correa is a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has already begun to build up his military with Russian weapons. As well as trade and defence ties, Moscow is finding new diplomatic partners. Following in the footsteps of Chavez, Correa is said to be about to join the list of countries that recognise the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgia’s two breakaway regions. But defence cooperation is at the fore in these new relations. Last month Moscow sold military helicopters and tanks to President Chavez. President Correa is reported to have signed up for two Russian helicopters and has plans for other defence material, with a reported price tag of 136 million euros. Political analyst Viktor Linnik said: “The US is very active in the territories of the former Soviet Union, in some of the territories, especially like Georgia, like Ukraine. It’s only natural that Russia would reciprocate by being more active in Latin America.” President Correa has also said it is possible that Russia and his country, an OPEC member, could also reach agreements on energy cooperation. Moscow is already investing heavily in oil projects in Venezuela.