MOSCOW: Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, said that Russian and Nicaragua authorities signed an agreement on simplified procedures, allowing visits of Russian warships to ports in the Latin American country.
Shoigu, who is on the second leg of his three-day Latin American tour, told reporters in Managua that several other agreements were signed, aimed at expanding bilateral military-technical cooperation. The minister did not provide further details.
Shoigu will wrap up his tour with a visit to Cuba on Friday.
Last fall, Russian Secretary General of the International Civil Defense Organization Vladimir Kuvshinov announced that Russia was planning on providing Nicaragua with a high-tech system to be used in the construction of an interoceanic canal through the territory of the country.
The Nicaraguan canal will connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and its construction is expected to last five years with the final canal replacing the century-old Panama canal.
Russia is actively pursuing cooperation with Latin American countries, particularly in the sphere of defense, which includes sales of weaponry, construction of naval maintenance and resupply facilities, as well as the occasional use of local airbases for hosting Russian strategic bombers on global patrol missions.
Earlier this year, the Russian defense minister stressed the need to develop new projects for cooperation with the armed forces of China and India, as well as those of Southeast Asia and the Arab world, including increasing the number of military bases abroad.
Meanwhile NATO has been increasing its military presence along Russia’s western border, a tendency that has raised concerns in Moscow. Earlier this month, NATO announced that its Rapid Response Force would be increased from 13,000 to 30,000 people, and six new command posts would be created in six of its member-states neighboring Russia.