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The US suggests Latin American countries to “donate” their Russian equipment to Ukraine

China Y Russia are the great rivals of Washington in Latin Americasaid Thursday the head of the Southern Command of USAwho suggested to Latin American countries that they “donate” Russian equipment to Ukraine to “replace” it with American material.

LOOK: US general sees “very difficult” to expel Russian troops from Ukraine this year

“This region matters and matters a lot for our national security,” said General Laura Richardson during a conversation with the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, aware of the criticism from Latin American countries that feel abandoned.

In the 2022 Homeland Security Strategy, the Joe Biden administration prioritized China and identified Russia as a significant but localized challenge.

The United States’ number two adversary in the region is Russia, said Richardson, the second woman to reach the rank of general in the US military.

A total of nine countries “have Russian equipment and we are working to replace that Russian equipment with equipment from the United States if those countries want to donate it to Ukraine or the ongoing cause,” he said, referring to the war waged after the Russian invasion of territory. Ukrainian almost a year ago.

The general did not specify which are the six countries with Russian military equipment, beyond Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Evan Ellis, a researcher at the Institute for Strategic Studies of the US Army War College, told AFP that Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Mexico and Bolivia have Russian military equipment, “mostly transport helicopters.”

In his opinion, Richardson’s idea “has merit from a technical point of view but it is unlikely that the nations of the region will carry it out.”

Technically it is very difficult for countries with Russian helicopters to maintain them, he explains, due to international measures imposed on Moscow and Russia prioritizing the war in Ukraine. “That will not change in the short term, which means that the Russian team is a burden in the long term.”

The shift to the left “in many parts of Latin America, very low defense budgets and a reluctance to buy new military equipment from anyone, let alone donate scarce existing equipment to Ukraine, means that this good idea will be very difficult to carry out in practice,” explains Ellis.

– Chinese tentacles –

In general, the other “evil state actor” is China, with whom “we are in strategic competition in the Western Hemisphere.” “Seeing the invasion and the tentacles of the PRC in the Western Hemisphere countries so close to the United States worries me a lot.”

Twenty-one of the 31 countries in the region have signed up to the Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the New Silk Road, a global infrastructure development strategy launched by Beijing.

The Asian colossus invests in critical infrastructure, Richardson warned, such as deep-water ports, space or telecommunications, with 5G networks and the multinational Huawei.

For what reason? Question. “If I had to guess, they are probably being offered a discount,” against a backdrop of economic hardship exacerbated by the pandemic that has hit the region hard, where at least 170 million people live in poverty.

The general argues that American equipment is of better quality but countries are now paying close attention to the financing that goes along with it, to “who gives the best financial deal” because they can’t pay as much up front.

– Close to home –

So “we need to pause and look at this very, very clearly” because it happens so close, “in our neighborhood,” said Richardson, for whom being a good neighbor means “taking care of each other.”

The United States has a third adversary: ​​transnational criminal organizations that inject “insecurity and instability”, which China and Russia precisely take advantage of, according to her, to “install themselves and prosper”.

These networks are nourished by human trafficking, drug smuggling, unregulated logging, illegal mining, because it is a region rich in resources and rare earths, with the so-called Lithium Triangle (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile) , a much-needed metal for technology.

It also overflows with oil resources, copper, gold. That without counting the Amazon, the lungs of the world, and 31% of the Earth’s fresh water.

An “out of the ordinary” area, she summarizes, with “incredible” trade, from which China benefits to a large extent, since it has become the main trading partner of some Latin American countries, relegating the United States to second place.

The value of trade between the Asian colossus and Latin America and the Caribbean has risen from 18 billion in 2002 to approximately 450,000 today, and is on the way to 750,000 “in the near future,” predicts Richardson. “There is a lot at stake.”

Source: Elcomercio

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