Washington briefing: In tit-for-tat with U.S., Russia seeks sphere of influence in the Americas

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Saturday December 20, 2008

Russian Navy destroyer Admiral Chabanenko. This vessel this week delivered humanitarian aid to Nicaragua. Royal Navy photo.

Russian naval vessels delivered humanitarian aid to Nicaragua last week, shortly after Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev arrived to observe joint Russian-Venezuelan military exercises and contemplated reviving a Cold War-era Russian radar during a visit to Cuba.

Aid to Nicaragua arrived just as the United States suspended its Millennium Challenge Corporation program there, citing President Daniel Ortega's democratic shortfalls. (In the 1980s the United States funded a guerilla war against Mr. Ortega, who was then voted out in 1990, only to stage a successful political comeback in 2006.) Earlier, U.S. naval vessels were used to bring humanitarian aid to Georgia.

Mr. Ortega is planning to visit Abkhazia and South Ossetia next week.

Russian moves into Latin America are seen as paralleling those of the United States in the former Soviet republics. Mr. Medvedev declared the former Soviet space an area of Russia's "privileged interests," which itself recalls the two centuries-old Monroe Doctrine that called for exclusion of European influences and sustaining effective U.S. dominance in the Western Hemisphere.

Meanwhile, U.S. and Russian officials held "strategic security discussions" in Moscow on December 15 within the framework of a declaration signed by the two countries' presidents last April, but made little headway on key sticking points such as a European missile defense system planned by the United States.

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Gala Danilova. HALO Trust

Calendar of Events

Gala Danilova will discuss the Karabakh conflict and ongoing de-mining efforts at an LA area event on November 23; for details about this and other upcoming Armenian happenings in America consult the Calendar of Events.





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