Pentagon presses Latin America to ship arms to Ukraine

In an increasingly frantic search for weapons to flow into the US-NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, the US has turned to Latin America, the top US commander for the region has revealed.

Southcom Commander General Laura Richardson reviews Panamanian troops in the Darién Gap, October 2022. [Photo: US Embassy Panama]

US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) chief General Laura Richardson told an online forum held last week by Washington’s geopolitical strategy think tank the Atlantic Council that the Pentagon is trying to convince several unnamed Latin American governments to “donate” Russian-made military hardware to the US government. US-backed regime in Ukraine.

“We are working with the countries that have the Russian equipment to either donate it or exchange it for American equipment,” General Richardson told a virtual audience last Thursday.

Diplomatic relations are either zero or severely curtailed between the United States and the three countries in the region that have the closest military-to-military relations with Moscow – Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. All of them, like Russia, are subject to US sanctions.

While Richardson declined to name them at the forum, titled “On Security in America,” she said six other countries in the region have significant stockpiles of Soviet- or Russian-made weapons and that negotiations were “in the works” to obtain them. to donate it to Ukraine or the ongoing case.” Such agreements to send Russian-made equipment into the Ukraine war would include pressuring the Latin American countries to replace the Russian equipment with American-made weapons.

While the US Southern Command also declined to say which countries were in talks for such arms transfers, the Pentagon has kept a close eye on the influx of Soviet and Russian weapons into the region.

In testimony last July before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Western Hemisphere, Evan Ellis, the US Army War College’s chief expert on Latin America and a vocal proponent of Washington viewing the region as a battleground in preparations for world war, provided a detailed list of such weapons systems.

The Latin American country — outside of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua — with the largest number of such weapons, he testified, is notably Peru, which began importing Soviet weapons in the 1970s under the nationalist military regime of General Velasco Alvarado and which bought most recently in 2013 24 Mi-17 military helicopters and two Mi-35 attack helicopters from Moscow. In the intervening years, including under the right-wing dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori, Lima purchased Su-22 fighter-bombers, Mig-29 fighters and other equipment, while its armed forces received Russian military training.

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The Dec. 7 parliamentary coup that ousted President Pedro Castillo and brought in a regime dominated by the Peruvian right and the security forces under Castillo’s former vice president Dina Boluarte may well have greased the wheels for the kind of deal promoted by General Richardson. A day before the coup, the US ambassador in Lima, Lisa Kenna, a veteran CIA agent, met and agreed with the country’s defense minister to support Castillo’s ouster. Since then, security forces have been unleashed on protesters, killing at least 60 of them.

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