Chapter 14. Russia and Latin America: New Perspectives and Modalities of Cooperation

April 15, 2024

The new Russian Foreign Policy Concept approved on March 31, 2023, asserts that the Russian Federation will try to develop its relations with Latin American and Caribbean countries on the “pragmatic, de-ideologized and mutually beneficial basis”,paying particular attention to “supporting interested Latin American states under pressure from the United States and its allies in securing sovereignty and independence, including through the promotion and expansion of security, military and military-technical cooperation”[1].  In the chaotic international situation of today, it is especially important to note that all the Latin America and Caribbean countries are in favor of the multipolar world, none of them supports the anti-Russian sanctions or abrogates the non-visa regime with Russia. Not a single country of the region has joined the Russophobia campaign promoted by the West.

That already means a lot. But can we, living in the volatile and contradictory world of today, foresee posterior reactions to possible changes? One should answer a difficult question whether there is any objective base that enables Latin American and Caribbean countries to pursue consistent foreign policy. Can we take it that they have the capability (within certain parameters, of course) to abstain from chaotic reaction to sudden changes in international politics? To answer those questions, we should turn to political, legal, cultural, and psychologicalaspects of their diplomatic activities, that earlier have rarely or never at all been considered in Russian or foreign international studies. In the modern world, where the collective West and the Global Majority are divided over shared values, it is clear that in order to attain that objective we should learn more about a purely Latin American set of values. Without that it would be impossible to find the right approach to the present and future role of this region in the world as well as the modality of its relations with the Russian Federation. But before, however, it is necessary to draw up an overall picture (albeit incomplete) of the situation in that region on the eve and after the beginning of the Special Military Operation in Ukraine started on February 24, 2022.

“… Given the progressive strengthening of the sovereignty and multi-faceted potential of Latin American and Caribbean states, the Russian Federation intends to develop relations with them on a pragmatic, de-ideologized and mutually beneficial basis, giving priority attention to:

  1. supporting interested Latin American states under pressure from the United States and its allies in securing sovereignty and independence, including through the promotion and expansion of security, military and military-technical cooperation;
  2. strengthening friendship, mutual understanding and deepening multi-faceted mutually beneficial partnership with the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Republic of Cuba, the Republic of Nicaragua, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, developing relations with other Latin American states, taking into account the degree of independence and constructiveness of their policy towards the Russian Federation;
  3. increasing mutual trade and investment with Latin American and Caribbean States, including through cooperation with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the Common Market of the South, the Central American Integration System, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas, the Pacific Alliance, and the Caribbean Community;
  4. expanding cultural, scientific, educational, sports, tourism and other humanitarian ties with the states of the region”. 

2023 Russian Foreign Policy Concept
Source: Russian Foreign Ministry

The most peaceful region

It is not by chance that Latin America is called the most peaceful region on our planet. In the 19th and the 20th centuries interstate wars were extremely rare there. Most of them by European standards could be named as border conflicts. The two major interstate wars on the continent – the War of the Pacific in the 19th century and the Chaco War in the 20th century – cannot at all be compared with the First and the Second World Wars. Besides, this region has never participated in any of the large-scale arms races. The great political crises of the Cold War (Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 and the Central American Crisis in 1979-1990) were escalated mostly after involvement of the superpowers.

Latin American and Caribbean countries are champions of conflict resolution. Suffice it to say, Brazil, from 1895 to 1909, peacefully resolved all ofits territorial problems with the neighbors (an absolute record). Without making a single shot it gained the territory equal to that of France. This enabled Brazil to pursue an independent policy throughout the most part of the 20th century and contribute to promoting and strengthening of South American integration based on the corresponding structures (MERCOSUR, UNASUR, etc).

Little known is the fact, that at the beginning of the 20th century the two South American countries – Argentina and Chile – pioneered an arms reduction process by concluding the so-called Pacts of May (1902), desisting from the use of the four already made for them in Italy and Great Britain armored cruisers. In the following years the same was done by Argentina and Brazil, which decided not to strengthen their navies by the newly constructed in Great Britain and the US dreadnoughts. By doing it the two largest South American countries managed to avoid an outbreak of a war between them and pave the way for future economic cooperation.

Indeed, the number of the territorial disputes, inherited by the countries of the region from the colonial times, could have led to numerous of intra-regional wars that really took place. Many of those disputes have already been peacefully resolved (as, for example, the territorial problem between Peru and Ecuador, in 1998), or simply frozen (as the simmering since 1904 dispute between Chile and Bolivia about the access of the latter to the Pacific). But one has to admit that on the way from peace to war Latin Americans have always been trying to erect much more legal barriers than civilized Europeans. Does that mean that their political culture is higher than the European one?We may easily presume that when we look at/speak about their traditionally respectful attitude to the norms and principles of the international law. This phenomenon has received, though, not appropriate, reflection in the Soviet, Russian[2], and Latin American special literature[3]

Well-known are Latin American efforts to create the first nuclear-weapon-free zone in the world (the Treaty of Tlatelolco, 1967) and to inaugurate the Zone of Peace and Cooperation in the South Atlantic (Brazil, 1986). From the middle of the 1960s and up to now, the countries of this region have been consistently reaffirming the principles of sovereign equality and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, whether it be in the United Nations, in the Organization of the American States (OAS) or in the Latin American intra-regional organizations (MERCOSUR, UNASUR, ALBA, CARIFTA, CELAC, etc.). Sometimes, their insistence on the norms and principles of international law led to open contradictions with the US and their satellites. This was in the 1970s, when they collectively demonstrated their solidarity against the unlawful anti-Cuban sanctions of the USA or were in favor of the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States within the United Nations in the 1980s. This was in 1982, when they collectively supported Argentina in its war against Great Britain over the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands, after which they demonstratively froze the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (1947).  As it is a well-known fact, when the collective Rio Group (later – CELAC) strongly opposed the bombardment of Belgrade in 1999, as well all other US and NATO interventions that took place ever since – in Iraq and Libya. The position of the leading countries of the region on the Syrian case was determined by their resolution to prevent the recurrence of the Libyan case.

Ecuador, a South American country, hosted the Australian journalist Julian Assange in its Embassy in London during seven years despite the numerous US and the EU demands to extradite him. This country simply could not ignore the sacred for many Latin Americans principle of diplomatic asylum. One should wonder in how many hoursa country like Germany, France or Belgium would have capitulated before the United States. Another example was provided by Brazil in 2011 when this country introduced in the UN the initiative Responsibility while Protecting (RwP). Brazil wanted to prevent mass casualties among civilians during the humanitarian missions, otherwise inevitable, if the Western concept Responsibility to Protect (R2P) continued as such.

Legal root causes and legal preferences

What can be the real basis of such an attitude towards the international law which now suffers from massive violations and continuous attempts to replace it by arbitrary rules? Historically, such an attitude is determined, firstly, by systemic reasons deeply rooted roots in the belonging of the whole Latin American region to the Continental legal system, and, secondly, by the need of the accelerated and integral development free from any external intervention.
The fact is that all the countries of Latin America are Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking areas, unlike the English-speaking Caribbean, belong to the Continental, or Romano-Germanic legal system. This system embraces the majority of nations, including Russia, China, continental European and Arab countries. This system prioritizes written norms. It is difficult to quickly bring them in line with the needs of the day. By contrast, the Common law system which has been adopted by all English-speaking countries, including the United States, gives a priority to the precedent. A judge in the Continental legal system interprets the norm of law, while Anglo-Saxon judge, indeed, creates it[4]. This is especially important, having in mind the desire of the US – a self-proclaimed world judge – to imposeon all other states its own understanding of the international law, or, if not, to cancel it. Compliant with the international law, Latin American countries, throughout the history of their difficult relations with Washington, have been opposed to these vested and unlawful doctrines and practices of the United States (precisely, since the 1823 Monroe Doctrine).

There were, of course, other reasons as well. First and foremost, it is the religious, historical, cultural, linguistic, and emotional affinity of the majority of the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries of the region. Despite natural differences and periodically emerging contradictions, now they constitute one of the largest civilizational communities in the world. One of its most prominent features is a traditionally strong position of the state and the church. Another is a special position of the military, whose influence in politics has always been difficult to define. By standing in defense of legal, rightful decisions Latin American diplomacy contributed much to the development of different mechanisms and institutions of international law, particularly, the mechanisms of conflict resolution, institutes of diplomatic asylum and norms of maritime law. The names of prominent Latin American jurists such as Andres Bello, Carlos Calvo, Luis-Maria Drago, Jose-Miguel Bustamante-y-Sirvén and others are well known to the professional community.

But there was one strong but. Mindful of the absenceof full-scale or protracted military conflicts in the region, we should not be surprised by relative fragility of Latin American armies (in comparison with those of the great powers). Being at considerable distance from the main theatres of European wars, Latin Americans have rarely practiced the Bismarckian politics among themselves. The Monroe Doctrine umbrella to a certain extent saved the region from the new stage of colonization by the European powers in 19th century. So, unlike all other countries, they seldom had an urgent need to prioritize security over laweither in theory or in practice. It is important to have this in mind now, dealing with the position of Latin American and the Caribbean countries in the Ukrainian case.

For more than 200 years that passed since Latin American countries gained their independence, they have had to oppose their pronounced legalism against the legal nihilism of the United States and other Western countries. Nowadays, this struggle acquires a new dimension since the process of ascension in the world hierarchy of such countries, like Brazil, Mexico and Argentina has sped up. The problem is not only in the fierce opposition to this, staged by the collective West, but also in the lacunas and contradictions within the international law, particularlybetween the two of its basic principles: territorial integrity and self-determination of nations. It greatly hinders the implementation of many of the legal instruments of conflict resolution. And it partly prevents Latin American and the Caribbean countries from fully understanding the root causes of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

Sovereignty and non-interference

When the international law does not give a clear priority to any of the aforesaid principles Latin Americans, guided by their historic phobias,tend to give it to the principle of territorial integrity. The threats of separatism and secession are characteristic of this continent as well, being the consequences of different ethno-national, cultural, socio-economic, etc. causes, which too often coincide in practice.

Brazil, for example, still has not fully freed itself from the drastic difference in standards of living between the poor North and the rich South. In the 19th century ethnic separatism of the three southern states, namely Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, led to a fierce attempt to create an independent Republic of Piratiní, or Riograndense Republic. At the end of the 1930s there was a possibility of their adhering to Nazi Germany. Besides, the second decade of the 21st century was marked by a massive flow of Venezuelan immigrants to the less populated Brazilian state of Roraima (2.1 persons per 1 km2). The majority of its population – ethnic Indians (80 percent) – fall within the scope of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted on September 13, 2007. According to it, indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination and the liberty to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development[5]. Massive influx of Venezuelans, that threatens to dismantle the Brazilian identity, regularly raises fears of the possibility of its secession. Problems connected with the Indian ethnicity are also characteristic for such countries as Bolivia, Peru, and Chile. In March 1993, in Chile there was created the Inter-regional Council of the Mapuche Indians with the headquarters in the city of Temuco which formed part of the notorious Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO).

Having accumulated a considerable negative experience in dealing with the imperialist countries as Spain, France, and Great Britain, and in the 20th century with the USA, the countries of the region have a good reason to be preoccupated with their territorial integrity. All the leading states of this region are concerned about the recurrence of the US or NATO interventions under different pretexts: from the promotion of human rights to the fight against terrorism to securing basic needs in energy or drinking water[6]. In fact, under those pretexts the collective West headed by the US tries to get free access to the abundant natural resources of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Natural resourcesDependenceCountries-donors of them
1.Bauxite     100%Australia, Brazil, Guatemala, Jamaica
2.Graphite100%Brazil, Mexico, China, Canada
3.Cesium 100%Mexico, China, South Africa
4.Mica    100%Brazil, China, India
5.Niobium100%Brazil, Germany, Canada
6.Tantalus100%Brazil, Australia, China, Japan
7.Lithium99%Bolivia, Chile, Afghanistan
8.Copper48%Mexico, Peru, Chile
Dependence of the United States on Latin America’s Natural Resources.
Compiled by the author based on: Brukmann M. Recursos naturales y geopolítica de la integración sudamericana. Caracas, 2012. 128 p.

Russia, of course, might appear on this list as well[7]. Our country and Brazil are, in fact, the only two countries in the world that can sustain themselves because they have practically allnatural resources, both mineral and biological ones. According to Mónica Brukmann, the US will suffer already very soon from the deficit of fresh water[8]. As for that vital resource, Russia (with the Baikal Lake and the Siberian rivers) and Brazil (with the Amazon River with its tributaries) dispose of about 20 percent of drinking water reserves on our planet. Brazil, the most populated country in the region, enjoys seven times more drinking water per capita than any other country in the world. This fact simply cannot be overestimated[9]. Also, Russian as well as many Latin American defense and security doctrines (Brazil – 2012, 2020, Argentina – 2010, Chile – 2010, Ecuador – 2009, etc.)[10] highlight current threats and adequately assess potential risks, with laying focus on the strengthening of national defense and on the regional solidarity.

Figure 18. Russia’s Export to Latin America (as of 2020).
© Compiled by PIR Center based on BACI DATABASE
Source: ?id=37

So, territorial integrity and sovereignty are of primary significancefor the region, where the interstate wars do not happen so often. But what about the principle of self-determination? Here the opinions differ. In the situation when two basic principles international relations come into conflict with one another Latin Americans prefer to take an ad hoc approach, which means that each case should be examined individually[11]. Different factors may underlie the final judgement: from general views about justice and truth to national interest, from nationally motivated interpretations of the international law to current political realities and necessary compromises. This can lead to a rather broad set of decisions.

Latin America and the Ukrainian crisis

In many aspects the reaction of Latin American and Caribbean countries to the Special Military Operation of Russia in Ukraine has been determined not only by their already mentioned special, respectful attitude to the international law, but also by the desire of their diplomatic services to pursue a de-ideological, pragmaticpolitical course. This was fully demonstrated during the reunification of Crimea with Russia in 2014 as well as after the recognition by Russia of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics and the beginning of the Special Military Operation in 2022. 

During the voting in the UN General Assembly on March 24, 2014, on the resolution concerning the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Ecuador abstained. Venezuela, Cuba, and Bolivia voted against. The rest voted in favor of the resolution. Later, the President of Argentina Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (2007-2015) called the situation absurd because the will of 1800 voters of the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands were considered legitimate[12] but the will of 2.2 million of the Crimeans voting at a referendum that resulted in 98 percent of votes for the reunification with Russia was not. Venezuela and Cuba noted in their declarations, that the crisis had been intentionally provoked by the West and compared it with the US interventions in Libya and Syria. The Ukrainian government was declared illegitimate and unable to secure the territorial integrity of the country.

After three years the situation changed. Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela again voted against the West-sponsored resolution on the violation of human rights in Crimea. But now among those abstained were the countries that previously had condemned Russia for the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine (Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago). It took them these years to better assess the situation.

This ambiguity has become even more pronounced after the beginning of the Special Military Operation. The UN resolution of March 2, 2022, which condemned Russian invasion and demanded the complete withdrawal of troops and revocation of the recognition of Lugansk and Donetsk, was adopted by 141 countries, with 5 against and 35 abstained.  Among those abstained were Latin American countries: Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. The Venezuelan delegate was absent. The rest voted for the resolution.

This outcome was expected. But it would be wrong to explain it exclusively by the pressure exercised by the US and the collective West, though, such pressure by all means took place. The principles of territorial integrity and non-use of force have gained a foothold in the political culture, national psychology, and praxis of Latin Americans. An endless history of the US interventions in Central America and the Caribbean, the loss by Mexico of more than one third of its territory in the war with the United States in the 19th century, the seizure by Great Britain of the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands, numerous intra-regional territorial disputes, very often sponsored be the great powers, and last but not least, an outspoken weakness of  Latin American armies in comparison with those of the West – all that contributed to the formal, legalistic consideration of the Ukrainian situation by the majority of Latin American countries.

The countries of this region, thanks to their geographical position, have never experienced such historic events of scale as Russia.Judging by the results of the voting, this postulate rarely dawns on the statesmen not only of Latin America but of other countries as well. The notion of time for the majority of them, not acquainted with the harsh realities of the nuclear confrontation, usually boils down to the arrival of a passenger flight from Rio de Janeiro to Lima, or something like that, rather than a few minutes of the flight time of a nuclear warhead, launched from the US base somewhere in the world.

The first anniversary of the beginning of the Special Military Operation was marked by the adoption of the UN resolution which called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the occupied Ukrainian territories. Out of the regional actors, only Nicaragua voted against this resolution. Bolivia, Cuba, and El Salvador abstained. The results of the voting, visibly negative for Russia, indeed, never changed anything. None of the regional actors, despite the US pressure, joined the anti-Russian sanctions, revoked the visa-free regime with Russia and even more so agreed to supply Ukraine with arms. Nor even a pro-US Brazilian government of president Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2023) agreed to drastically review its relations with Russia. The government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2023-present), the head of the Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores) who returned to power in 2023, categorically refused to do that.

The position of this most developed and most populated country of Latin America was set forth in the interview of its Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira to the popular Brazilian magazine Veja in February 2023. In fact, it resonates with the desire of all the other states of the region to contribute to the peaceful resolution of the conflict. “When two countries are at war, to declare our position, on the one hand, and to continue our peace efforts, on the other hand, that’s the way, that may help to begin the negotiations”, – said the Minister Vieira[13].

A Foreign Policy Advisor of President Lula, ex-minister of foreign affairs and ex-minister of defense Celso Amorim said: “We cannot agree with the use of force without the UN sanctions. But, on our part, it would have been inconsecutive, on the one hand, to condemn the unlawful intervention of the USA to Iraq and, on the other hand, to approve of the conduct of Russia. However, we should not all the time look into the past, blame someone and others not to, without looking for a peaceful solution. We need such a solution, and the government of Lula is going to look for it”[14]. Those words of the experienced Brazilian diplomat who compared the US aggression against Iraq with the Special Military Operation of Russia in Ukraine illustrate the primacy of a formal norm over strong security imperatives in the conscience of some Latin American leaders. In this case the reputable Brazilian diplomat could have been asked the following questions: What is the geographical distance between the United States and Iraq, and between Russia and Ukraine? Could Iraq deliver its weapons of mass destruction, if any, to the US territory as fast as the USA to Russia from its Ukrainian bases?

Voting for the territorial integrity of Ukraine, major Latin American countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, and some others are clearly pursuing their own interests. On the one hand, they demonstrate their loyalty to the principle of sovereignty, which has always had a special value for them, and which is also fully respected by Russia. But on the other hand, they call for the negotiations that are declined by the West and Ukraine and have never been declined by Russia. So, practically speaking, the neutrality they maintain on this issue may be viewed, by and large, as benevolent towards Russia.

Brazil, in particular, as a rising power and one of the founding members of BRICS, tries to raise its international weight and significance with a view to having a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. To gain this the Tropical Giant, as this country is sometimes called, actively participates in the UN peacekeeping operations (for example, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH). In the Ukrainian case Brazil wants to sponsor a peace formulaby offering its intermediary services and inviting to the negotiations, if necessary, other regional countries. These peace initiatives put forward by the President of Brazil are the most well-thought-out as of today. In April 2023 in Shanghai President Lula de facto recognized Crimea as the Russian territory.

Recently, in 2023, international multilateral forumshave proved that the US and its allies are constantly losing its influence and authority over Latin American and Caribbean countries. Despite all the EU efforts, it could not manage to put the Ukrainian case in the center of the EU-CELAC Summit that took place in Brussels in July 2023. A whole number of states of the region frustrated the invitation previously extended to Vladimir Zelensky by the heads of the EU. They managed to exclude from the final declaration any direct criticism of Russia. One country (still unknown) refused to sign the document even in the mild version. The Western media particularly highlighted an open pro-Russian position of Nicaragua and Cuba.

In August 2023, there was the US attempt to make other countries support the Zelensky’s peace formula at the conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. On the eve of the event, President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador refused to attend the summit by reason of Russia’s absence. At the summit the President of Brazil Lula da Silva urged all the present parties to take into consideration legitimate interests and rightful demands that Russia might put forward at any future negotiations on the crisis in Ukraine thereby provoking Zelensky’s rage.

All that happened at the summer meetings proved another time that the Joe Biden administration (2021-present time), confronted with the opposition to its anti-Russian policy, intends to persist with the strategy adopted in 2022 in Los Angeles during the so-called Summit of the Americas. Planned as the Summit of the Democracies it had excluded from participation such countries as Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. As a result, Mexico, Honduras, Bolivia, El Salvador, and Guatemala downgraded the level of their delegations, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines boycotted the meeting. By sacrificing universalism for its selective approach, Washington is evidently trying to implement the democracies vs dictatorships formula in its struggle against Moscow and Beijing. But the history of the countries of Latin America convincingly demonstrates that the ties of solidarity among its peoples have always been stronger than contradictions. Numerous examples, ranging from the acts of solidarity with Cuba and Nicaragua to the collective rejection of the US unilateral actions elsewhere in the world, speak for themselves.

Civilizations and cultures

The 2023 Russian Foreign Policy Concept states that the “culture of dialogue in international affairs is degrading, and the effectiveness of diplomacy as a means of peaceful dispute settlement is decreasing. There is an acute lack of trust and predictability in international affairs”[15]. Along with that, one could say that the level of confidence between the USA and the Latin American and Caribbean countries today might be qualified as the lowest since the end of the World War II (WWII) (1939-1945).

This deficit of trust arising from the existing differences in values and orientations of states and peoples will most likely persist in the years to come. In this sense, Russia hardly will hardly gain understanding and favorable attitude from absolutely all the countries and civilizational archetypes of the world. We will dare to say that such favorable attitude may be attained only and exclusively on the basis of cultural, emotional and civilizational proximity in the spheres of law, security, culture and common strategic perceptions.

A non-public principle of Anglo-Saxon statesmen Law – for the jurists, politics – for us has managed over the years to penetrate all spheres of human life: history, politics, philosophy, economics, culture, and morality. It has become a guiding principle primarily for those nations, that belong to the Common law system and culturally and linguistically associate themselves with the Anglo-Saxon world.

To formulate a universally recognized definition of terrorism, to resolve a contradiction between the two basic principles of the international relations – self-determination of nations and their territorial integrity, to carry out a long-desired UN reform, to peacefully settle crises in the Middle East, around Taiwan, or in the post-Soviet area, to put an end to the arms race, etc., will be possible only if there is in place respectful attitude the international relations and the culture of dialogue exists. And this can be attained only by those nations that share the same or similar attitudes towards the international law.

Only if we agree that such notions as justice, morality and truth constitute the basic principles of the international law, we might count on the better understanding of that from the representatives of so-called poliactive cultures as distinguished from monoactive.The poliactive cultures among which psychologists reckon Slavs, peoples of South Europe, Arabs, and Latin Americans, boast mobility, sociability, enthusiasm, and the possibility to do several things at one time[16]. To those qualities, common between the Russians and, particularly, the Latin Americans, we might add such as open-mindedness and a width of views, generosity, compassion, artistry, comradeship, idealism, kind-heartedness, tactfulness, optimism, patriotism, loquaciousness[17] and some others.

Some shifts to make

In the recent years experts have rarely diverted their attention from socio-economic developments in the international sphere. Now it is high time to change the modality of the discourse. Giving the economics its due we should pay more attention to such spheres as culture, religion, national phobia, etc., generally speaking, to all aspects that constitute national psychology. This may open up new modalities of cooperation between Russia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Firstly, the main focus should be laid on the maintenance and progressive development of the international law. That could be realized in parallel with an all-embracing reform of the UN with a view to reclaiming its authority. With the Anglo-Saxons’ strong opposition to it, the only alternative to the UN reform nowadays could be a much closer cooperation under the auspices of BRICS, particularly now after the accession to that format some Asian, African, and Latin American countries[18] which has converted it into a full-scale international organization.

Secondly, there is a need to attend to the common securitystrategies. This concerns not only common threats connected with terrorism, drugs, and criminality. The threat to our main natural resources, including drinking water, rare metals and minerals, nuclear and other types of energy will only rise.  Everything suggests that in the nearest future there will be closer military and technical cooperation between Russia and such Latin American countries as Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, Peru, Nicaragua, and others. Something is being done already now, but it seems yet insufficient from the point of view of the emerging common threats.

The results of the presidential elections in Argentina in November 2023 have become a challenge for the Argentinians for the next four years. The similar challenge has already been coped with by the neighboring Brazil whose ex-president Jair Bolsonaro, while taking part in the presidential campaign, declared himself a pro-US and a pro-Israeli politician. But when he came to power, he had to partly review his previous slogans. Bolsonaro was pragmatic enough not to abandon BRICS and not to worsen relations with Russia. In spite of some pro-US declarations made by the current Argentinian President Javier Milei (2023-present) during the presidential elections campaign, Russia officially expressed its hope to continue friendly relations and to maintain high level of economic cooperation between the two states[19].

If anything, the first steps of President Milei were not encouraging both in terms of its membership in BRICS (Argentina recalled its application to join this format[20]), and the future of MERCOSUR (judging by Milei’s desire not to deepen relations with Brazil). The economic measures taken by the new Argentinian President just after his coming to power (cancelling of the subsidies to many categories of the Argentinians) caused mass protests in the biggest cities. Maybe those protests and the fact that his party lacks majority in the parliament made him review some of his previous decisions (the Central Bank shutdown and the transition of the economy to the US dollar). It seems, that there is still time for Milei to also review some of his earlier postulates. In any case, history suggests that the US promises to help Argentina have turned out to be either false or simply counterproductive.     

Thirdly, the continuous aggravation of climatic and ecological problems obliges all countries, which dispose of gigantic biological-, water- and energy resources, to establish a much closer coordination in the climatic and ecological spheres. Those global problems together with the maintenance of peace objectively have already become the most urgent and pretty soon they may outweigh the traditional ones: those of trade and economics.

In this sense it will be most fruitful to better understand national psychology of Latin American and Caribbean nations (and not only of them). It is high time to stop dividing the countries of the region into pro- or anti-American, belonging to the left or to the right camp, when the majority of them tend to pursue a pragmatic, national-oriented foreign policy course. It is also important for Russia to develop a concise approach to its foreign policy in general, having in mind that the international law, being universal by its nature, has always been subject to civilizational nuances. Russia should emphasize those nuances in its foreign policy with a view to escaping possible misunderstandings. This is especially true of Latin America with its own special attitude towards the international law.

[1]The Concept of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation, 2023 // Russian Foreign Ministry, March 31, 2023. URL:

[2] Курс международного права. Тт.1-5. М., «Наука», 1967; Лазарев М.И. Проблемы Латинской Америки и международное право. Тт.1-2. М., 1995, ИЛА РАН; Баскин Ю.Я., Фельдман, Д.И. История. международного права.  М., «Международные отношения», 1990, C.82-83; Латинская Америка и международное право. М., РУДН, 2017, 305 с.

[3] Casella, P.-B. Direito Internacional no tempo moderno. São Paolo, Editora Atlas, 2014, 665 p.

[4] Давид, Р., Жоффре-Спинози, К. Основные правовые системы современности. М., «Международные отношения», 2009, сс. 29, 113, 263-266.

[5] United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples // United Nations. URL:

[6] NATO 2020: Assured Security; Dynamic Engagement. Part 2: Further Analysis and Recommendation. Chapter 5: Alliance Forces and Capabilities // NATO, May 17, 2010. URL:

[7] In their book The Siberian Curse: How Communist Planners Left Russia Out in the Cold the American authors F. Hill and C. Gaddy suggest Russia to get rid of its Siberian territories, being them not too easy to explore and hand them off to the US transnationals, which will certainly do better.

[8] Brukmann M. Recursos naturales y geopolítica de la integración sudamericana. Caracas, 2012. P.21.

[9] Salzman, J. Drinking Water. N.Y, Overlook, 2013. Pp. 225-255.

[10] Brasil. Ministério da Defesa. Estratégia Necional de Defesa. URL:; Livro Branco de Defesa Nacional. Brasil, 2012. URL:;  Ministério de Defensa de la República Argentina. Libro Blanco de la Defensa. Bicentenário, 2010. Mindef. Buenos Aires, 2010,  Pp. 5-45.; Libro de la Defensa Nacional de Chile. Santiago, Ministério de Defensa, 2010. 74 p.; Hacía una nueva política de seguridad interna y externa. Seguridad, sobernía y democracia. Ecuador, Ministério coordinador de seguridad externa y interna, agosto 2008. 97 p.

[11] Casella P.B. Empires, Hegemony and Cooperation. Legal Aspects of BRICS. Ed. by T.A. Alexeeva,
 P. Catalano. St. Petersburg: National Research University, 2011. Pp. 27-48.

[12] According to the referendum, organized by the British administration of the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands in March 2013.

[13] Péchy A. “Saímos de cima do muro”, diz novo chanceler Mauro Vieira sobre guerra //Veja, February 10, 2023. URL:

[14] “Não há como concordar”, diz Celso Amorim sobre guerra entre Rússia e Ucrânia // Brasil 247, February 1, 2023. URL:

[15] The Concept of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation, 2023 // Russian Foreign Ministry, March 31, 2023. URL:

[16] Lewis R. When Cultures Collide: Leading Across Cultures. Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 1996.

[17] See: Сергеева, А.В. Русские. Стереотипы поведения, традиции, ментальность. М., «Наука», 2005, 313 с.; Мнацаканян, М.О. Культуры, этносы, нации. М., МГИМО (У), 2005, C. 327-343; Кочетков В.В. Идентичность и культура в современных международных отношениях, М., МГУ, 2015, C. 115-144.

[18] Other Latin American countries which want to become the BRICS members until today have been Venezuela, Mexico, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Uruguay.

[19] Putin hopes Russia, Argentina will build constructive dialogue as he congratulates Milei // TASS,
 November 20, 2023. URL:; Russia hopes friendship with Argentina will remain after election of new president — envoy // TASS, November 20, 2023. URL:; В МИДе выразили надежду на укрепление сотрудничества России и Аргентины // Известия, 20 ноября 2023 г. URL:  

[20] In December 2023, after taking presidential office, President of Argentina Javier Milei sent official notifications to Brazilian President Lula da Silva, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, that his country would not join the group. – Editor’s Note.

E16/MIN – 24/04/15