Russian President Vladimir Putin and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez on Saturday called for a multipolar world order as Moscow sought to boost ties with Latin America amid heightened East-West tensions.
Putin is on a six-day tour seeking to increase Moscow’s influence in the region at a time when the Ukraine crisis has eroded Russia’s relationship with the US and Europe to their lowest point since the Cold War.
His itinerary includes meetings with a string of leftist leaders critical of the US and a summit of the BRICS group of emerging countries — an agenda that neatly aligns with his push for a multipolar world less dominated by the West.
Fernandez is meanwhile waging her own fight against Washington, battling a US court ruling that Argentina must pay more than US$1.3 billion by the end of the month to hedge funds refusing to accept the restructuring of the country’s defaulted debt.
Putin said Russia shared “a very similar, very close view of international relations” with Argentina.
He also voiced his support for Argentina’s longstanding territorial claim to the Falkland Islands, the British territory that it calls the Malvinas, which sparked a 1982 war between the two countries.
“We favor the principles of a multipolar world, which are equality, indivisibility and security. Russia continues to support the need to find a solution to the dispute over the Malvinas Islands at direct negotiations between Great Britain and Argentina,” Putin said at a dinner in his honor.
The Argentine leader for her part insisted that global institutions must be overhauled and made more multilateral.
“We firmly believe in multipolarity, in multilateralism, in a world where countries don’t have a double standard,” Fernandez said after the pair toured the presidential palace in Buenos Aires.
“We need to globally regulate the flow of capital that has turned the world into a financial casino where many countries are drowning in huge debts,” Fernandez added.
She called for the next meeting of G20 major economies to set a broader agenda that also targets global economic and financial regulation.
The pair looked on as their delegations signed a series of bilateral deals, including one on nuclear energy that comes as Argentina ramps up work on its fourth nuclear plant, the US$3 billion Atucha III reactor.
Fernandez said members of the Russian delegation would also visit the massive Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas field, potentially one of the largest finds in history, which cash-strapped Argentina — locked out of capital markets since its 2001 default — needs investment to develop.
The pair also discussed military cooperation, including the prospect of Russia providing transport planes for use in Antarctica.
Putin’s six-day trip was to take him to Brazil to participate in a summit of the BRICS emerging nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The Russian strongman has invited Argentina, which is keen to join the group, to attend the meeting as an observer.
He was also to watch Argentina play Germany in the World Cup final last night.
There were distinct Cold War echoes in the former KGB spy’s travel itinerary.
He launched his tour on Friday in Russia’s Cold War ally Cuba, where he met with Cuban President Raul Castro and his 87-year-old brother, former Cuban president Fidel Castro, father of the island nation’s communist revolution.
He then made a surprise stop in Managua for talks with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, a former guerrilla whose government was close to the Soviet Union during the Sandinista regime of the 1980s.
However, Putin also had plenty of modern-day business on his agenda.
In Havana, he oversaw the signing of a dozen bilateral deals, including for oil exploration off the island’s coast.
In Nicaragua, he vowed to strengthen economic ties with the Central American country, which earlier this month finalized the route for a planned alternative to the Panama Canal, a Chinese-backed plan that promises to reshape the global shipping industry.
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