Russia Reaches Out to Latin America in an Effort to Dodge Sanctions

Published: 05 October 2023

Putin Russia Latin-America Conference

Russian President Putin addresses the first International Parliamentary Conference “Russia – Latin America,” held in Moscow. (Photo: Russian State Duma, License)

By Zdravko Ljubas

Faced with Western condemnation and hundreds of sanctions following its war on Ukraine, Russia is seeking allies in Latin America by hosting the First Russia-Latin America Parliamentary Conference, held in Moscow from September 29 to October 2.

The conference drew over 200 attendees, including MPs from various Latin American and Caribbean nations, experts, public personalities, and diplomats in an attempt to find "the possible measures and tools that legislators can use to build a just world order," according to the Russian State Duma.

"We are convinced that a new world order is being built, and Russia is one of the pillars of this order, one of the main pillars that contribute to the development of multilateral approaches and the establishment of mutually beneficial relations," said the Special Representative of the President of Nicaragua for Russian Affairs, Laureano Ortega Murillo, during the conference.

Welcoming the guests at the opening ceremony, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed that "Russia's and Latin America's views on international issues traditionally have a lot in common."

He expressed his belief that the development of direct engagement at the legislative level provides excellent potential for developing and expanding collaboration through new areas of joint activity. He added that Russia aspires for the Latin American nations to grow gradually and dynamically to improve their positions in the global economy and politics.

"In order to achieve this, we are ready to build bilateral relations as well as work closely with integrational associations of Latin America, such as the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, and the Southern Common Market," Putin said.

He went on to say that Russia will help these countries develop practical relations with the Eurasian Economic Union and compare views on current issues such as "trade policy, tariff regulation, stimulating investment, and technology transfer."

According to the Chairman of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, such collaboration should help Russia withstand the burden of more than 17,500 sanctions placed on the country in the last 10 years.

Therefore, during the conference's various panel discussions, Russian and Latin American legislators addressed the "enhancement of economic cooperation and financial interaction, including in conditions of sanctions restrictions."

According to the European Council, sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union, the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States), and Australia to reduce Russia's ability to finance the war have caused the country's economy to shrink.

The EU, the G7 nations, and Australia have frozen more than 300 billion euros (US$315.27 billion) in Russian Central Bank reserves, along with numerous financial, trade, transport, immigration, and other sanctions.

According to the World Bank, it is difficult to evaluate the sanctions' impact on the Russian economy and forecasts for Russia "due to significant changes in the economy associated with the war in Ukraine and Russia's decision to limit the publication of economic data, notably related to the external trade, financial, and monetary sectors."