Is Russia’s renewed openness to Latin America just showmanship?

People walk past a mural of Venezuelan and Russian flags that reads “Together we will defeat COVID-19” in Caracas, Venezuela, March 4, 2021.

(YURI CORTEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite its new relations with Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela in recent weeks, Russia is unlikely to significantly increase its economic and military cooperation with these countries due to Moscow’s secondary interest in Latin America. On February 9, the Nicaraguan government announced the start of negotiations to implement energy, medical and nuclear projects with the Russian nuclear company Rosatom. The announcement comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin had three separate phone calls with Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro between January 23-26 to discuss strengthening the strategic cooperation in areas such as economy, education and defence. . Amid the growing standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine, a senior Russian diplomat also recently suggested that Moscow could send a military deployment to Cuba and Venezuela if the United States continues to expand their military presence in Eastern Europe. …