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The Growing Russian Military Presence
in Latin America


André F. Garcia, Brazil

UNASUL (Union of South American Nations) is an international organ formally created May 23, 2008 in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. Its objective is the political, economical and social control of the region. It has 12 members: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Equador, Guiana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. Two countries have seats as observers: Mexico and Panama.

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UNASAL meets: uniting to attain a socialist South America
In economic matters, it aims to establish a continental free commerce zone that comprises the Mercosul (Southern Common Market) and the Andean Community of Nations, in addition to Chile, Guiana and Suriname. Their headquarters will be established in Quito, Ecuador; their bank (Banco do Sul) in Caracas, Venezuela; their parliament, in Cochabamba, Bolívia.

The meeting of heads that took place last month in Santiago – its first test of efficiency – included nine Presidents. Unanimous support was given to Socialist President Evo Morales regarding the internal Bolivian conflict where some States are seeking greater autonomy from his central government. The first political act of UNASUL, in perfect synthesis with the ideological interests of the Forum of São Paulo, fortified the leftist Evo to the detriment of the rightist opposition.

The idea of creating the South American Defense Council was presented officially by Brazil, and rejected only by Colombia. The Council, which is in the process of formation, will set out defense policies for the group, coordinate personnel exchanges among the different Armed Forces of the member countries, arrange for joint military maneuvers and participation in UN peace operations, and exchange analyses on world affairs and integrating different war industries. The first military act of UNASUL was to strengthen its ties with Russia, to the detriment of the North American influence.

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China and Unasur: similar flag colors

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The close military relation between the Venezuelan and Russia governments is already a consummate fact. Now, Russia is tightening political-military relations with Argentina and, through it, with UNASUL. Russia has requested admittance as an observer on its Defense Council [see press release below]. And once again, it has showed interest in utilizing Argenina to intervene in South America. Its previous attempt miscarried during the Malvinas War in 1982, when it unsuccessfully tried to make an alliance with the Argentine Military Junta. It was aborted and came to nothing.

Will this new political advance, followed by supplies of war material, reignite nationalists fears of a new English attack in the Malvinas Islands? In addition to the threats of Hugo Chávez to make “various South American Vietnams,” is a new focus of conflict in the Malvinas being prepared?

The transformation of South America into a theater of military operations for the North American, English and Russian military forces is an excruciating hypothesis, which would make South-Americans see that they are not out of the way of worldwide conflagrations.

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Russia Asks to Be Admitted as an Observer
in the UNASUL Defense Council


France-Press - October 14, 2008 - The Russian government has requested admission as an observer in the South American Defense Council (CDS) of the Union of South American Nations (Unasul), Argentine’s Minister of Defense announced in a recent press release on October 15.

The request was made by Russian Security Council chairman Nikolay Patruscev during a meeting in Buenos Aires with Defense Minister Nilda Garré.

"The Russian delegation showed interest in becoming involved in the Defense Council of the Union of South American Nations (Unasul) and the Latin-American Association of Training Centers for Peace Operations (Alcopaz), and requested Russian admission into both organizations as an observer,” the report said.

Unasul was formally founded last May in Brasilia. Its 12 members are Argentina, Bolívia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guiana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. At that meeting, the countries gave their support for the creation of the South American Defense Council, whose objectives would be to trade defense experiences, carry out joint military exercises with member countries and support peace missions made by Armed Forces of the region.

The Council – which is presently being formed – would not be a conventional military alliance such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but a forum for dialogue between Defense Ministers and governments in order to form a regional defense policy, according to the organizers.

At the meeting, Garré and Patruscev analyzed the possibility of more collaboration between Argentina and Russia on defense matters. They noted that the topic could be “a very important component” in the meeting between the Presidents of the two countries during the visit of Argentine President Cristina Kirchner to Moscow scheduled for the end of this year.

Argentina and Russia have already agreed on a November 4 meeting of defense specialists to take place in Buenos Aires as preparation for a gathering of joint military technicians that will take place later on November 17-18.

Another topic that was examined at the meeting, said the communiqué, was the possibility of purchasing heavy Russian helicopters, especially equipped for missions over the Antarctic, as well as the eventual training of Argentinean pilots as astronauts,

Posted November 24, 2008



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