Moscow is taking efforts to retain and expand the arms market in Latin America. Next week, the military delegation led by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu will visit Brazil and Peru to conduct talks in the field of military-technical cooperation.
Experts attach political importance to the scheduled visit, as large arms deals will allow Russia to consolidate its position in the region. Against the background of difficulties with conclusion of new arms sales contracts with Venezuela, Russia's success in this area in other countries of the region appears to be particularly important.
According to the Kommersant newspaper, in Brazil, Russian officials will discuss issues related to the purchase of two batteries of Igla portable air defense systems and three batteries of Panzir-S1 air defense systems. In Peru, the parties will discuss the possibility of selling 110 Russian tanks T-90 and BTR- 80A. It is expected that with these countries, Russia will sign contracts worth at least $1.7 billion.
Chief of Staff of Brazil, General Jose Carlos De Nardi raised the question about the purchase of Panzir-S1 at a meeting with the head of the General Staff of the Russian Federation, Valery Gerasimov, in the beginning of the year in Moscow. A source close to Russian arms exporters said that the customer was primarily interested in the purchase of the air defense system that would be capable of providing the adequate level of security at the time of the World Cup in 2014. The future transaction was evaluated at $1 billion.
Earlier it was reported that the contract could be signed this year. According to experts, it will open a way for broad military and technical cooperation with Brazil in other areas as well. The cooperation between Russia and Brazil in the field of defense was discussed during President Dilma Rousseff's visit to Moscow in December 2012. The Brazilian side evinced interest not only in the acquisition of Panzir-S1 and Igla MANPADS, but also in the technology for these weapons, as well as in the subsequent construction of an assembly plant for their production in Brazil.
In the past, military and technical cooperation between Russia and Brazil was insignificant. In 2009, only one contract was signed for the supply of 12 Mi-35M helicopters worth about $250 million.
In Peru, the Russian delegation will discuss the issues related to armored hardware. When the Peruvians were shown the armored T-90 at SITDEF International Exhibition of Defence Technology, "they just stared at it." It is expected that contracts in Peru will bring Russia at least $700 million. In addition, Moscow hopes to interest the authorities of Peru with new air defense systems to replace obsolete Soviet-made air defense systems Pechora that are currently in service with the Peruvian Army.
In the first six months of the current year, Russia has sold weapons and military equipment abroad in the amount of more than $7 billion. The all-Russian defense orders portfolio is estimated at $46 billion. However, Russia, being one of the largest exporters of arms, has suffered significant losses too. Because of the conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, some countries have abandoned intentions to buy Russian weapons.
The state of affairs in the field of defense cooperation between Russia and Venezuela is complicated too. All major contracts were tied to late president Hugo Chavez. After his death, against the backdrop of complications of the socio-economic situation in the country, defense cooperation with Russia actually came to a standstill. Almost all contracts signed under Chavez have been executed, and new Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is not ready to agree on new ones.
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969