Global Insights: Medvedev Tour Shows Moscow’s Latin American Limits

Global Insights: Medvedev Tour Shows Moscow’s Latin American Limits

Dmitry Medvedev just completed his first visit to Latin American as Russia's new president, traveling to Brazil, Cuba, and then Venezuela after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in Peru late last month. Accompanied by an impressive delegation of Russian government officials and influential business leaders, Medvedev used the Lima summit and follow-on tour as an opportunity to meet with other world leaders, promote various economic and defense deals, and reaffirm Russia's intent to strengthen its presence in South America.

Russian officials desire improved relations with South American countries for both economic and political reasons. The surge in world commodity prices in recent years has brought billions of dollars of income to several Latin American countries. Some of these funds have helped rebuild national militaries, creating opportunities for Russian defense suppliers eager to expand beyond their traditional markets of China and India. According to the U.S. Congressional Research Service, between 1998 and 2001, Russia supplied $300 million worth of arms to the region. Between 2002 and 2005, that amount doubled. By 2007, Latin America had become the third largest market of Rosobornoexport, which accounts for 85 percent of Russia's weapons sales. Between 2005 and 2007, Russian arms transfers to Venezuela alone topped $3 billion dollars.

In addition, several Latin American countries such as Brazil are counting on their rising economic strength to endow them with greater diplomatic influence in the 21st century. "Latin America, of course, is becoming an obvious link in the chain making up a multipolar world," Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in September 2008. "We will allocate more and more attention to this vector of our economics and foreign policy."

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.