August 20, 2014
Russian president set to meet CFK in BA
Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will meet today with an agenda expected to be heavily weighted toward trade and energy issues. Argentina marks Putin’s second leg of a Latin American tour that began in Cuba yesterday and will end in Brazil, where the Russian president will watch the World Cup final on Sunday.
After a meeting between the two presidents at Government House, a dinner in Putin’s honour will be held at the emblematic Palacio San Martín tonight, to be attended by Presidents Evo Morales of Bolivia, José Mujica of Uruguay, and Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela.
All three heads of state had been scheduled to attend the Independence Day celebrations held on Wednesday in Tucumán province but failed to travel once it was announced that the president would skip the event due to illness. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa was also invited to participate in the Tucumán event but will not attend the dinner.
Putin’s visit comes amid a flurry of bilateral and multilateral engagements for the the president, who will also travel to Fortaleza, Brazil for the summit of BRICS countries from July 15 to 16 and will later host Chinese president Xi Jingping in Buenos Aires in the same week.
Argentina’s presence at the BRICS summit — typically restricted to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — was a result of an invitation from Putin. Despite hopes locally that the invitation was a prelude to an eventual formal invitation to be part of the group and Argentina’s interest in such a development, Putin has announced that at this time there is no discussion of an expansion in the group’s membership.
Still, shortly before departing on his Latin American tour, Putin told the Prensa Latina news agency that “Today, Argentina is one of Russia’s key strategic partners in Latin America, the UN and the G20. Our approaches to the key issues in global politics are either similar or identical. We share the belief that there is a need to create a new and more equitable polycentric world order based on international law with the central and coordinating role of the UN.”
Putin also stated that he sees his visit as a possibility to discuss “the bilateral and international agenda and to proceed with a fruitful exchange of opinions.”
Nuclear energy is expected to feature highly on the list. “We anticipate the signature of a cooperation agreement on the use of nuclear energy for peaceful uses,” said Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s international affairs adviser earlier this week.
Argentina has an established record in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and exports nuclear technology to countries such as Australia. In addition, Russia has expressed interest in helping to build the country’s next nuclear plant—Atucha III.
“We are interested in extending our cooperation with Argentina and Brazil... Latin America is an unconventional market for Russia and it can be one of the priorities for the development of Rosatom,” Ushakov said, speaking of the country’s state energy company.
There has also been reported Russian interest in participating in the rich but investment-intensive shale oil and gas reserves in the Vaca Muerta deposits of Neuqén.
Russia has also been supportive of Argentina’s stance against the holdouts, with Russian Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov reportedly telling Lower House Speaker Julián Domínguez in Moscow at the end of June that the country was fully behind Argentina in its long battle with the hedge funds that have refused to restructure defaulted debt.
Common ground on Malvinas and Crimea
Beyond the mutual interest in developing energy issues, Buenos Aires and Moscow have recently found common ground over the “double standards” that the Russian Federation considers have been applied over its annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
Following the fall of Viktor Yanukovych’s government and the subsequent referendum in the Crimean peninsula that overwhelmingly voted for accession to the Russian Federation, Fernández de Kirchner lashed out at the United Kingdom and the United States in March for disregarding the results of the referendum, saying it contradicted with their possition of supporting a 2013 referendum in the Malvinas Islands on the grounds that the right to self-determination of the islanders was decisive to settling the matter.
Argentina has as a matter of policy consistently given higher priority to the right of territorial integrity in its claims for the Malvinas Islands over the right of self-determination and correspondingly dismissed the referendum in the Malvinas in 2013 as irrelevant.
For its part, Russia has expressed support for UN resolutions calling for a negotiated solution between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the Malvinas, backing Buenos Aires’ policy.
As a matter of policy, Argentina has also favoured constructive dialogue between stakeholders over the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine as it deals with secession attempts in the country’s east.
According to Putin, the trip to Argentina can also be understood by cultural links.
“They say that there is some Russian blood in every sixth Argentine,” Putin said. “Many people from our country found their second home in Argentina.”
— Herald staff with Télam, online media