The alliance between Russia and Nicaragua, reinforced in recent months with a series of official agreements such as a program for the “use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes” denounced last week by the United Statesrepresents a risk to regional security, indicated international analysts consulted by CONFIDENTIAL.
The Former Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís He said that this relationship is not surprising, since it dates back to before the disappearance of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)—which occurred in 1991—but risk factors are perceived, given the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the radicalization of the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship.
“The most dangerous that is perceived are two large sets of factors. The first is the establishment, in the heart of Central America, of a true Russian military base with extensive operational capacity in an area of high strategic sensitivity,” said Solís, who held office between 2014 and 2018.
For the ex-president, the renewal of the Armed Forces of the dictatorship with Russian support, the construction of high-tech military facilities and, now also, the announcement of the start of programs for the development of nuclear power plants, are just three examples. of the hazard to which you refer in your analysis.
Solís added that the other worrying factor is Russian support for the consolidation of Nicaraguan tyranny, given that Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba have merged into an alliance that does not help the cause of “peace and development.” ” in the world.
They question little US interest.
He also questioned “the lack of interest from the US.” addressing precisely this issue, which he estimates has occurred since the middle of the last decade, although a State Department source warned last week about the “strong Russian presence” in Nicaragua during and after Ortega’s illegitimate inauguration in January 2022, after voting without democratic guarantees, due to state repression through which he imprisoned his main political rivals.
“This (lack of interest), for understanding the continental power, mistakenly seems to me, that the Armed Forces of the Ortega-Murillo regime have served it well by stopping the migratory flows to the North and collaborating in the interdiction of the traffic of illegal drugs. Both assessments seem false to me and put the entire region at risk,” Solís denounced through a WhatsApp message, responding to a query from this medium.
In addition to warning about the “growing ties” between Moscow and Managua, a State Department source said that US military cooperation with Nicaragua has declined in the last decade and admitted that it is currently quite “limited.”
This situation is due to a lack of trust, whose loss increased as of 2018, when the Ortega dictatorship repressed civilians, using the Police, shock groups and parapolice, which the Army refused to disarm. despite the demands of civil society. According to international organizations, in total they were 355 people were killed and more than 2000 were injuredyesat least 200,000 people have gone into exile since then, while the military has argued its adherence to the Constitution to submit to the will of the dictator.
“Today we have little relationship between the Southern Command and the Nicaraguan Armed Forces. This cooperation has diminished notably in the last ten years and that is regrettable, but there must be trust, shared values to carry out this type of cooperation. That doesn’t exist today,” said the State Department source quoted above..
Evan Ellis: “Ortega and Murillo want to escape isolation”
Evan Ellis, a Latin American studies researcher at the Institute for Strategic Studies at the United States Army War College, explained in an interview on the program This weekthat the objective of the Russian closeness of Ortega and Murillo is to escape the isolation imposed by Washington and the European Union.
The sanctions have affected the close circle of the FSLN for human rights violations and corruption, while the Ortega regime argues without evidence that it was the victim of an attempted coup, in which it points to the priests of the Catholic Church as participants, to the which has become the object of a fierce persecution.
“They want to show that they still have friends in other parts of the world, because Ortega and Rosario Murillo are very isolated,” Ellis said in an interview with journalist Elmer Rivas, broadcast this Sunday, December 4.
Ellis referred to a “cooling off” of military cooperation between Nicaragua and the United States and also to the sanctions that have been imposed by the Donald Trump government, and which have deepened in the Biden Administration after Ortega’s repressive escalation against the citizenship in general, the Catholic Church, the closure of independent media, attacks on civilians and “it just seems that this continues.”
The academic believes that there is concern on the part of Ortega’s allies about losing access to the US market. The US is Nicaragua’s main trading partner.
Last April, Nicaraguan political scientist Manuel Orozco, from the Inter-American Dialogue, said that the Biden Administration has been indebted to the implementation of the RENACER law. Precisely this legislation opens the possibility of reviewing Nicaragua’s participation in the trade agreement between Central America, the United States and the Dominican Republic, known as CAFTA.
For his part, Euclides Tapia, a professor at the School of International Relations at the University of Panama, explained that the ties between dictators such as Ortega and Putin are due to the search for external support to sustain themselves in power, while internally they do relying on the security forces.
“These ties call into question (regional) security: the geopolitics of the Caribbean due to the ties it develops with Russia and particularly the Panama Canal. These maneuvers are Russian actions to tell the United States: “what you are doing in Ukraine, I am going to do it here.” I am going to use this country (Nicaragua) with a dictator. Ortega lends himself to that and whatever as long as they support the maintenance of his dictatorial regime, ”Tapia said.
For Tapia, Nicaragua is like a Russian “beachhead” on the American continent. That relationship with Putin has been consolidating since 2007, when Ortega took power.
Secret military cooperation between Russia and Nicaragua
Data on Russia’s military cooperation with Nicaragua is handled with absolute secrecy. The most recent were published by Revista Envío, from the Universidad Centroamericana, in 2016. At that time, a rearmament of the Central American country was denounced in a context of Russia’s geostrategic repositioning.
In that text, citing Russian media, they mentioned the existence of a contract for the supply of a batch of 50 modernized T-72B1 tanks—at an estimated cost of 80 million dollars—and the order for four patrol boats of project 14310 Mirazh in 2013, among other acquisitions.
“The lack of official information in Nicaragua and the fact that the Russian economy is not there to give away or donate -except for discarded material-, added to the evidence that Nicaragua does not have the resources to buy these means and equipment, generated new questions. . Who would finance these million-dollar acquisitions? Was it a purchase-sale operation, a donation, or a combination of both?” the prestigious magazine wondered at the time.