The U.S. and its allies seem to be waking up a little too late.
Before Obama became President in 2008 the Soviets wanted to renovate their old Punte Hinte strategic airport in Nicaragua, the largest within the country, that can accommodate Russia’s Tu-160 strategic bomber (or other future bombers) in an ideal spot from which to launch attacks on the American homeland.
Most of the danger lies not in the fact that the Russians are meddling in America’s “backyard”, but in the fact of how slow America is to realize what’s taking place and how it reacts, which is complacent.
Frequent visits to the region by high-ranking Russian officials – culminating this week with a four-nation trip by Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov – and rumors of the sale of military aircraft to countries like Argentina and Nicaragua have led to widespread speculation about Moscow’s increasing role in Latin America and what this means for relations between the United States and its neighbors in the Western Hemisphere.
“U.S.-Russian relations are at a low that we could not have expected at the end of the Cold War,” Jason Marczak, the deputy director at Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, told Fox News Latino. “Russia doesn’t really have the ability right now to have a real presence in Latin America, but they can spark concern in Washington that Russia is on the rise in the region.”
While most observers agree that Russia’s moves into Latin America won’t create the geopolitical uproar that it could during the height of the Cold War, there are concerns that its influence could create problems for the U.S.’s policies in the region.
Marczak added that Russia’s biggest threat to U.S. policy in the region could come in the form of creating a military power imbalance through its sale of weapons and aircraft to certain countries.
Already rankling hawkish U.S. lawmakers by announcing joint Russian-Venezuelan military drills in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea – near U.S. territorial waters – for later this year, recent rumors of proposed military aircraft sales to Nicaragua and Venezuela have caused many U.S.-friendly countries to worry that they’ll be left outgunned next to their Slavocentric neighbors.
“The Russian military’s sales to countries should worry the U.S. because it will create a military imbalance in the region,” Marczak said. “It could start a small-scale arms race.”