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Enforce the Monroe Doctrine on Russian Moves in Latin America

January 7, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Russia and the United States seem determined to provoke each
other by adopting highly intrusive policies in the opposing
country’s geopolitical neighborhood. The latest incident is
Moscow’s decision to send two nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela to
show support for Nicolas Maduro’s leftist regime. Russian
defense minister Sergei Shoigu said during a meeting with his
Venezuelan counterpart Vladimir Padrino Lopez that Russia would
continue to send military aircraft and warships to visit Venezuela
as part of continuing bilateral military cooperation.

Not surprisingly, Washington is unhappy about Moscow’s
move. The Trump administration increasingly is concerned about the
Maduro regime’s ugly authoritarianism, the meltdown of the
Venezuelan economy and the massive refugee flow it has created, and
the mounting tensions between Caracas and several neighbors,
especially Colombia . Even before the latest
episodes of turbulence, Barack Obama’s administration
declared Venezuela to be a national security
threat to the United States. The last thing U.S. officials want to
see is Russia fishing in such troubled political waters.

The Trump administration
needs to adopt a firmer policy toward Moscow’s intrusions into
Latin America.

Russia’s cooperation with Venezuela has grown markedly
since tensions between Moscow and Washington flared in 2008 over
Russia’s war with Georgia. A Russian general even spoke of
the possibility of his country acquiring a military base in
Venezuela. While civilian leaders in both Caracas and Moscow
disavowed such intentions, Russian naval forces soon conducted joint maneuvers with Venezuelan
units, and there was a proliferation of arms sales. In 2012, the
Venezuelan government announced a $4 billion “loan” from
Russia to purchase tanks, air-defense missiles, and other hardware.
The bilateral political and security relationship has grown
steadily closer since then.

There are multiple signs of greater Russian activism throughout Latin
America
over the past few years. Moscow has revitalized its
political and military ties with Cuba’s communist government.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the new, non-communist
Russia markedly reduced both its political and economic support to
Havana. But Vladimir Putin’s government has reversed that
policy, and Moscow is once again a major backer. In addition, the
Kremlin is far more active in promoting ties with Brazil, Argentina
and other major Latin American countries. And those initiatives are
not confined to economics and diplomacy; they have a military dimension as well.

Washington’s failure to enforce the Monroe Doctrine during
the Cold War when the Soviet Union made Cuba into a client state
and military outpost has not encouraged respect for that doctrine
in the post-Cold War era. The Trump administration needs to adopt a
firmer policy toward …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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