Lavrov Defends Russia Arms Sales To Latin America

By Dialogo
February 18, 2010

Why do our Latin brothers want so many weapons?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has defended his country's sale of
weapons in Latin America, saying that the sales had increased in recent years but
still trailed US sales in the region.

"The delivery deals have risen in a serious manner" in a number of Latin
American countries, he said during a joint press conference Tuesday in Mexico City
with his Mexican counterpart Patricia Espinosa.

"But we are still behind the United States," added Lavrov.

Latin America is the biggest new market for Russian weapons exports,
according to the London-based Institute for International Strategic Studies
(IISS).

Russian arms sales to Latin American countries "are a question purely of
economics, and not politics," Lavrov said.

He noted that Mexico is interested in acquiring helicopters for coastal
surveillance to assist the country's ongoing battle against drug
traffickers.

Russia is seeking to sign security-related deals with various Latin American
countries and has already secured concrete projects with Cuba, Nicaragua and
Colombia, he added.

"We want to develop this cooperation and to work with Mexico," he
said.

The top Russian diplomat said his country approached the region with
"pragmatism," rather than an ideological bent.

Russia, the second-biggest arms vendor in the world in 2008, has signed deals
with Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia and is in discussions with
Bolivia, Uruguay and Ecuador, the IISS said in early February.

In recent years, Venezuela has purchased 4.0 billion dollars worth of
military equipment from Russia.


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