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The region purchased only 0.8% of total Russian arm exports in 2015-2019; the US has recovered its position as the main arms supplier for the Americas
Over the last five years, the region carried out 40% less arms imports than during 2010-2014; the end of the commodity boom era reduced military equipment purchases
Chavez's Venezuela got almost $20 billion in Russian loans to buy weapons, but the collapse of the Venezuelan oil industry has left Moscow without a clear full repayment
The arrival of the Bolivarian left to power in many countries brought tight relations with Moscow. But the pink revolutions wave has subsided in almost all places
▲ A Russian Sukhoi Su-30MK2 bought by Venezuela, in Barquisimeto in 2016 [Carlos E. Pérez]
ARS Report 2020 / Peter Cavanagh [PDF version]
Over the last two decades Latin America increased its military expenditure. As the Latin American countries improved their economies, they looked to modernize their military and defense systems. The purchasing spree was notorious during the golden decade of high commodity prices (2004-2014), specially during the first five years, which were the more profitable in public income terms. After the commodity boom was over the region lowered its military purchases.
The trend was not uniform. Meanwhile Central America and the Caribbean, less affected by the commodity cycle, kept increasing the expenditure in arms imports over the last years, South America, more depending on minerals and oil exports, reduced the volume of arms transfers. Taken the region as a whole, Latin America's military purchases were 10% of global arms transfers in 2010-2014, and 5.7% in 2015-2019, according to SIPRI. Between the two periods, arms imports by Latin America dropped 40%.
This general evolution was mirrored by the ups and down of Russia's portfolio in the region. Moscow managed to exploit the opportunity of the golden decade to the fullest. Russia positioned itself as a willing partner in arms sales and became the leading arms exporter in the region, surpassing China and the United States by far. Russia tried to exert its influence in Latin America to the highest extent possible, taking advantage of a wave of leftist governments (the so-called pink revolutions). Latin America has traditionally fallen under the sphere of influence of the United States. With Russian arms sales in the region, it serves as a direct challenge to US influence. As the second largest exporter of military arms in the world, after the US, Russia has a unique opportunity to affect policy in the region.
However, it is important to note that from 2014 onwards, Latin American arms imports have really begun to drop off, and this includes Russian exports as well. Russian arms exports decreased by 18% globally between 2010-2014 and 2015-2019, first affected by a prominent drop of purchases by India (-47%), which is its main client (25% of Russia's sales in that period), and, less importantly, by a reduction of imports from the Americas. Russian sells to Latin American countries were only 0.8% of total Russian military exports. From 2014 onwards the US recovered its traditional position as the main arms supplier for the region.
In the last two decades Venezuela has been Russia's biggest customer in the Western Hemisphere. Since the mid 2000’s, after Hugo Chávez consolidated his power, Venezuela has purchased almost $20 billion in military equipment from Moscow. The years 2005 and 2006 saw the beginning of the transactions: Russian loans for Chavez's government to buy arms in exchange of future Venezuelan oil deliveries.
Over the years Caracas carried out more than thirty operations of arms acquisitions. more than the number of operations done by the other countries combined: Mexico 7, Peru 6, Nicaragua 5, Brazil 4, Colombia 3, Ecuador 2, and Argentina, Uruguay and Cuba 1 each. Among other significant material Venezuela acquired 24 Sukhoi fighters Su-30MK2s (and ordered 12 more), the S-300 surface-to-air missile system, various combat and transport helicopters such as the Mi-35M and Mi-26 models, and 92 T-72M1 tanks.
The prospects of Russia getting all its money back any time soon from Venezuela is quite low. Due to the severe economic conditions of the country, Venezuela has not been able to continue its payments, so the terms of the debt had to be renegotiated. Since 2014 Moscow has not delivered any new material. After the withdraw of the giant Russian energy company Rosneft from the country at the beginning of 2020 there have been less ways for the Russians to recover the loans. In many respects, this has left Venezuelan-Russian relations at a crossroads.
As Venezuela continues to decline rapidly, Russia is faced with deciding whether to keep making large investments in a country where it is tremendously risky or just abandon all efforts which have been made over the past few decades. Only time will tell which course of action the Kremlin will take.
Besides Venezuela there are a handful of other nations which have also carried out arms deals with Moscow. Nicaragua for example has been the beneficiary of many arms deals. According to the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database, in the first decade of the 21st century almost no arms orders had been made. However, this changed two years after Daniel Ortega came to power in 2007. Since then 90% of all military imports that Nicaragua has received have been supplied by Russia. In 2016, 50 T-72B1 Russian tanks were shipped to Nicaragua as part of a reported $80 million deal. Then in 2017 two Antonov An-26 military transport aircraft were sent.
The Nicaraguan government justified these purchases, saying that the equipment would be used as part of the struggle against drug trafficking. However, this has caused many other Latin American nations to become concerned of a military imbalance in the region, especially because some of the new equipment is more proper for waging war rather than keeping internal security.
Reports on Nicaraguan-Russian relations point to the fact that Russia may have ulterior motives beyond just influence. In many ways it comes down to military real estate. The arms deals between the two countries has been seen as an attempt on the part of Russia to curry favor with the Nicaraguan government in attempts to gain access refuelling facilities by the equator.
Other significant Russian arms sales recipients, as already mentioned, include states such as Peru, Mexico and Brazil. In the case of Peru, a country that even during the Cold War had some Soviet weapons systems in its inventory in order to diversify its arm imports, the most recent deal occurred between 2014 and 2016 valued at approximately half a billion dollars: the purchase of 24 transport helicopters Mi-8MT and Mi-17 (another 24 units were ordered in 2017).
Mexico has not Russians among its main arms suppliers (64% of Mexican purchases were to the US in the period 2015-2019; 9,5% to Spain and 8,5% to France), but still it carried out six arms deals with Russia since 2000. There has not been a deal made since 2011 when three Mil Mi-17 Military helicopters were purchased.
Brazil has also had a handful of deals with Russia in recent years, during the presidencies of Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, when a amore pro-Russia stance was held by the government. This has changed immensely since the election of Jair Bolsonaro in 2018. The Brazilian government is now openly concerned for Russian influence in the region and has begun to take a more pro-USA stance when it comes to foreign policy. In any case, in the period 2015-2019 the main arms suppliers to Brazil were France (26%), the US (20%) and the UK (17%).
Overall, Russian arms sales to Latin America grew considerably, with some fluctuations, over the course of the last twenty years. The latest trend however has been a significant drop in overall Russian arms exports to Latin America. Between 2015 and 2019, as already mentioned, Latin America accounted for only 0.8% of all Russian arms exports.
This drop can be attributed to two main factors. In the first place, the change of ideological orientation in the Latin American countries, with less leftist parties in power. Secondly, the end of a booming economy in the region. And additional reason could be the international sanctions against some specific Russian industries due to the aggressive foreign policy conducted by Putin.
[Glen E. Howard and Matthew Czekaj (Editors), Russia’s military strategy and doctrine. The Jamestown Foundation. Washington DC, 2019. 444 pages]
REVIEW / Angel Martos Sáez
This exemplar acts as an answer and a guide for Western policymakers to the quandary that 21st century Russia is posing in the international arena. Western leaders, after the annexation of Crimea in February-March 2014 and the subsequent invasion of Eastern Ukraine, are struggling to come up with a definition of the aggressive strategy that Vladimir Putin’s Russia is carrying out. Non-linear warfare, limited war, or “hybrid warfare” are some of the terms coined to give a name to Russia’s operations below the threshold of war.
The work is divided in three sections. The first one focuses on the “geographic vectors of Russia’s strategy”. The authors here study the six main geographical areas in which a clear pattern has been recognized along Russia’s operations: The Middle East, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Arctic, the Far East and the Baltic Sea.
The chapter studying Russia’s strategy towards the Middle East is heavily focused on the Syrian Civil War. Russian post-USSR foreign-policymakers have realized how precious political stability in the Levant is for safeguarding their geostrategic interests. Access to warm waters of the Mediterranean or Black Sea through the Turkish straits are of key relevance, as well as securing the Tartus naval base, although to a lesser extent. A brilliant Russian military analyst, Pavel Felgenhauer, famous for his predictions about how Russia would go to war against Georgia for Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008, takes us deep into the gist of Putin’s will to keep good relations with Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Fighting at the same time Islamic terrorism and other Western-supported insurgent militias.
The Black and Mediterranean Seas areas are covered by a retired admiral of the Ukranian Navy, Ihor Kabanenko. These two regions are merged together in one chapter because gaining access to the Ocean through warm waters is the priority for Russian leaders, be it through their “internal lake” as they like to call the Black Sea, or the Mediterranean alone. The author focuses heavily on the planning that the Federation has followed, starting with the occupation of Crimea to the utilization of area denial weaponry (A2/AD) to restrict access to the areas.
The third chapter concerning the Russia’s guideline followed in the Arctic and the Far East is far more pessimistic than the formers. Pavel K. Baev stresses the crucial mistakes that the country has done in militarizing the Northern Sea Route region to monopolize the natural resource exploitation. This tool, however, has worked as a boomerang making it harder for Russia nowadays to make profit around this area. Regarding the Far East and its main threats (North Korea and China), Russia was expected a more mature stance towards these nuclear powers, other than trying to align its interests to theirs and loosing several opportunities of taking economical advantage of their projects.
Swedish defense ministry advisor Jörgen Elfving points out that the BSR (acronym for Baltic Sea Region) is of crucial relevance for Russia. The Federation’s strategy is mainly based on the prevention, through all the means possible, of Sweden and Finland joining the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO). Putin has stressed out several times his mistrust on this organization, stating that Western policymakers haven’t kept the promise of not extending the Alliance further Eastwards than the former German Democratic Republic’s Western border. Although Russia has the military capabilities, another de facto invasion is not likely to be seen in the BSR, not even in the Baltic republics. Instead, public diplomacy campaigns towards shifting foreign public perception of Russia, the funding of Eurosceptic political parties, and most importantly taking advantage of the commercial ties (oil and natural gas) between Scandinavian countries, the Baltic republics and Russia is far more likely (and already happening).
The second section of this book continues with the task of defining precisely and enumerating the non-conventional elements that are used to carry out the strategy and doctrine followed by Russia. Jānis Bērziņš gives body to the “New Generation Warfare” doctrine, according to him a more exact term than “hybrid” warfare. The author stresses out the conscience that Russian leaders have of being the “weak party” in their war with NATO, and how they therefore work on aligning “the minds of the peoples” (the public opinion) to their goals in order to overcome the handicap they have. An “asymmetric warfare” under the threshold of total war is always preferred by them.
Chapters six and seven go deep into the nuclear weaponry that Russia might possess, its history, and how it shapes the country’s policy, strategy, and doctrine. There is a reference to the turbulent years in which Gorbachev and Reagan signed several Non-Proliferation Treaties to avoid total destruction, influenced by the MAD doctrine of the time. It also studies the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (IMF) Treaty and how current leaders of both countries (Presidents Trump and Putin) are withdrawing from the treaty amid non-compliance of one another. Event that has sparked past strategic tensions between the two powers.
Russian researcher Sergey Sukhankin gives us an insight on the Federation’s use of information security, tracing the current customs and methods back to the Soviet times, since according to him not much has changed in Russian practices. Using data in an unscrupulously malevolent way doesn’t suppose a problem for Russian current policymakers, he says. So much so that it is usually hard for “the West” to predict what Russia is going to do next, or what cyberattack it is going to perpetrate.
To conclude, the third section covers the lessons learned and the domestic implications that have followed Russia’s adventures in foreign conflicts, such as the one in Ukraine (mainly in Donbas) and in Syria. The involvement in each one is different since the parties which the Kremlin supported are opposed in essence: Moscow fought for subversion in Eastern Ukraine but for governmental stability in Syria. Russian military expert Roger N. McDermott and analyst Dima Adamsky give us a brief synthesis of what experiences Russian policymakers have gained after these events in Chapters nine and eleven.
The last chapter wraps up all the research talking about the concept of mass mobilization and how it has returned to the Federation’s politics, both domestically and in the foreign arena. Although we don’t exactly know if the majority of the national people supports this stance, it is clear that this country is showing the world that it is ready for war in this 21st century. And this manual is here to be a reference for US and NATO defense strategists, to help overcome the military and security challenges that the Russian Federation is posing to the international community.
[Francisco Pascual de la Parte, El imperio que regresa. La Guerra de Ucrania 2014-2017: Origen, desarrollo, entorno internacional y consecuencias. Ediciones de la Universidad de Oviedo. Oviedo, 2017. 470 pages]
REVIEW / Vitaliy Stepanyuk [Spanish version]
In this research on the War of Ukraine and the Russian intervention in the confrontation, the author analyses the conflict focusing on its precedents and the international context in which it is developing. For that purpose, he also analyses with special emphasis the relations of Russia with other states, particularly since the fall of the USSR. Above everything, this study encompasses the interaction of Russia with the United States, the European Union, the surrounding countries resulted from the disintegration of the USSR (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania...), the Caucasus, Central Asian republics (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan…), China and the participation of Russia in the Middle East conflict. All these relations have, in some way, repercussions on the Ukrainian conflict or are a consequence of this conflict.
The book is structured, as the author himself explains in its first pages, in such a way that it allows different manners of reading it. For those who want to have a general knowledge of the Ukrainian issue, they could only read the beginning of the book, which gives a brief overview of the conflict from two completely different perspectives. For those who want also to understand the historical environment which led to the conflict, they may also read the Introduction. Chapter II explains the origin of Russian suspicion towards liberal ideas and Western inability to understand Russian social concerns and changes. Those people who would like to assimilate the conflict in all its details and understand its political, strategic, legal, economic, military and cultural consequences should read the rest of the book. Finally, those who just want to comprehend the possible solutions to the dispute can directly read the last two chapters. At the end of the book, readers can also find both a wide bibliography used to write this volume and some appendices with documents, texts and maps relevant to the study of the conflict.
The Ukrainian issue started at the end of 2013 with the protests on Kiev's Maidan Square. Almost six years after that, the conflict seems to have fallen in the oversight, but the truth is that war is still going on and that the end to it is not visible yet. When it started, it was a clash nobody expected. Hundreds of people came out to the streets asking for better life conditions and the end of corruption. Mass media made a wide coverage of all that happened, and all the world was conscious and up-to-date with what was occurring in Ukraine. Initially held in a peaceful way, the protests turned violent because of the repressions of the government forces. The president fled the country and a new government, which was pro-European oriented and accepted by the majority of the citizens, was established. However, this achievement was responded by the Russian intervention in Ukrainian territory, resulting in the illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, claiming that they were just protecting their Russian citizens there. Besides, an armed conflict started in the Donbass region, in the East side of Ukraine, between Ukrainian troops and a separatist movement supported by Russia.
This is just a brief summary of how the conflict originated but, actually, it is much more complex than it seems. According to the book, Ukrainian War is not an isolated conflict which happened unexpectedly. In fact, the author argues that the reaction of Russia was quite presumable in those years, because of the internal and external conditions of the country directed by Putin and the ideas that had arisen in Russian mentality. There were eight warnings of what could happen in Ukraine and nobody realized it: some examples are civilian protests in Kazakhstan in 1986, the War of Nagorno Karabaj (a region between Armenia and Azerbaijan) started in 1988, the war of Transnistria (in Moldova) started in 1990, the separatist movements in Abjasia and South Osetia (two regions of Georgia)… Russia normally supported and helped separatist movements, alleging in some cases that it had to protect the Russian minorities that were living in that places. This was a quite clear image of Russia´s position towards its surrounding neighbors and it reflected that, despite having accepted at the beginning the independence of these former Soviet republics after the fall of the USSR, Russia was not interested in losing its sphere and power of influence in those regions.
One interesting idea shown in the book is the fact that, even though the USSR collapsed and the Soviet institutions disappeared, the idea of a strong empire, the distrust and rivalry with the West powers and the concept of a strong State comprising all the power remained present. All these topics didn´t extinguished but survived, and they shape nowadays Russian internal and external politics, defining especially Kremlin´s relations with foreign powers. The essence of the USSR persisted under another flag, because the Soviet elites remained without being condemned or imprisoned. Some people could also reason that the survival of the Soviet thought and State´s Power is due to the ineffective reformation process hold by the West liberal powers in the USSR after its fall. We have to bear in mind that the sudden incursion of West customs and ideas in a Russian society not prepared to assimilate them, without an organized and ruled strategy to adapt to that change, provoked horrible impacts in the people of Russia. By the end of the nineties, the majority of Russians were thinking that the introduction of the so called “democratic reforms” and free market, with their unexpected results of a massive scale corruption and social deterioration, had been a great error.
In that sense, the arrival of Putin meant the establishment of order in a chaotic society, even though it meant the end of democratic reforms. Besides, the people of Russia saw in Putin a leader capable of facing the Western powers (not as Yeltsin, the previous Russian president, who had had a weak position towards them) and taking Russia to the place it should occupy: Russia as a great empire.
One of the main consequences of the Ukrainian conflict is that the context of the relations between Russia and the Western powers has frozen in a dramatic way. Even though their relations were bad after the collapse of the USSR, those relations deteriorated much more because of the annexation of Crimea and the War in Ukraine.
The Kremlin adopted suspicion as a principle (especially towards the West). Concurrently, Russia was encouraging cooperation with China, Egypt, Syria, Venezuela, Iran, India, Brazil and South Africa as a means to face NATO, the EU and the United States. On the one side, president Putin wanted to reduce the weight of that Western powers in the international economic sphere. On the other side, Russia also started to develop stronger relations with alternative countries in order to face the economic sanctions imposed to it by the European Union. Because of these two reasons, Russia created the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), constituted in May 2014, with the objective of constructing an economic integration on the basis of a customs union. Nowadays, the EAEU is composed by five members: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.
In addition, Russia has extremely denounced NATO´s expansion to the East European countries. Moreover, the Kremlin has expressed this issue as an excuse in order to start the development of a strong military and establishing new alliances. Together with some allies, Russia has organized some massive military trainings near Poland´s and Balkan States´ borders. In turn, Russia is also working to create disputes among NATO members and weaken the organization.
Particularly, the Ukrainian conflict has also shown the differences between Russian determination and the West indecision, meaning that Russia was capable of carrying out violent and illegal measures without being responded with strong and concrete solutions by the West. It could be analyzed that Russia uses, above all, hard power, taking advantage of economic (the sale of oil and gas for example) and military means in order to dictate another nation´s actions through coercion. Its use of soft power occupies, in some way, a subordinate place.
According to some analysts, the hybrid warfare of Russia against the West included not only troops, weapons and computers (hackers), but also the creation of “frozen conflicts” (for example, the Syrian war) which established Russia as an indispensable part to solve that conflicts, and the use of propaganda, mass media and their Services of Intelligence. In addition, the Kremlin was also involved in financing others countries´ pro-Russian political parties.
Russian activity is incomprehensible if we don´t take into consideration the strong and powerful propaganda (even more powerful than the USSR propaganda system) used by Russian authorities to justify Government´s behavior both towards its own people and towards the international community. One of the most used argument is blaming the United States for all the conflicts that are occurring in the world and justifying Russia´s actions as a reaction to an aggressive position of the United States. According to Russian media, United States´ supposedly main objective was to oppress Russia and foment global disorder. In that sense, Russian general tendency was to replace the liberal democracy by the national idea, with great exaltations to patriotism in order to create a sense of unity, against a defined adversary, the liberal-democratic States and International Organizations.
Another interesting topic is the deep explanation made by the author about how different is Russian´s vision of the world, security, relations among nations, Rule of Law… in comparison with the Western conceptions. Whereas The West is centered on the defense and application of International Law, Russia claims the idea that each country is responsible for its own security, taking any measure needed (even if it contradicts International Law or any International Treaty or Agreement). Definitely, what is seen nowadays is a New Cold War consistent in a bloc of liberal-democratic States, which tend to the achievement of a wide trade and globalized finances, against another bloc of the main totalitarian and capitalist-authoritarian regimes, with a clear tendency towards militarization.
Success and perspective
The gives a profound and wide view of what is nowadays Russian external politics. It highlights the idea that the Ukrainian conflict is not an isolated dispute, rather a conflict that is inserted in a much more complex web of circumstances. By means of reading this book, one can realize that international relations don´t function as a patterned and structured mechanism, but as a field were countries have different views about how the world is established and about which should be the rules that comprise it. We could say that there is a struggle nowadays between a Liberalist view (which emphasizes international cooperation and the rejection of power as the only way to act in the international sphere —supported by the West) and a Realistic view (which explains the foreign affairs in terms of power, state-centrism and anarchy —supported by Russia) of International Relations.
One of the strong points of the book is that it displays different stances of a lot of analysts about the conflict, with critics to both Russian and Western activities. This enables the reader to compare the conflict under different perspectives and acquire a complete and critical view of the topic. Moreover, readers could also learn and comprehend the actual state of things of other countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus, regions which are almost unknown in the Western society.
The book is an excellent research work, which enables anyone who reads it to be able to examine the complicated reality that surrounds the Ukrainian War and to go in depth in the study of the relations among nations.
WORKING PAPER / A. Palacios, M. Lamela, M. Biera [Spanish version]
The European Union (EU) has been specially damaged internally due to some disinformation campaigns, which have challenged its legislation and its very values. The different operations of disinformation alongside the communicative incapacity of the European Union’s institutions have generated a feeling of alarm in Brussels. Just a year before the celebration of the elections to the European Parliament, Europe has concentrated a lot of his efforts in challenge the issue of disinformation, generating new strategies, challenges, objectives and workshops such as the Stratcom Task Force or the group of experts of the European Commission.
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The Russian positioning system GLONASS has placed ground stations in Brazil and Nicaragua; the different accessibility of them to nationals gives rise to conjectures
At a time when Russia has declared its interest in having new military facilities in the Caribbean, the opening of a Russian station in the Managua area has raised some suspicions. Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, has opened four stations in Brazil, managed with transparency and easy access; instead, the one that has built in Nicaragua is surrounded by secrecy. What little is known about the Nicaraguan station, strangely greater than the others, contrasts with the openly that data can be collected on the Brazilians.
ARTICLE / Jakub Hodek [Spanish version]
We know that information is power. The more information you have and manage, the more power you enjoy. This approach must be taken into account when examining the ground stations that serve to support the Russian satellite navigation system and its construction in relative proximity to the United States. Of course we are no longer in the Cold War period, but some of the traumas of those old times may help us to better understand the cautious position of the United States and the importance that Russia sees in having its facilities in Brazil and especially in Nicaragua.
That historical background of the Cold War is at the origin of the two largest navigation systems we use today. The United States launched the Global Positioning System (GPS) project in the year 1973, and possibly in response, the Soviet Union presented its own positioning System (GLONASS) three years later.  It has been almost 45 years, and these two systems no longer serve Russians and Americans to try to get information on each other, but are collaborating and thus offering a more accurate and fast navigation system for consumers who buy a Smartphone or other electronic device. 
However, in order to achieve global coverage, both systems need not only satellites, but also ground stations strategically distributed around the world. For that purpose, the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos has erected stations for the GLONASS system in Russia, Antarctica and South Africa, as well as in the Western Hemisphere: it has four stations in Brazil and since April 2017 has one in Nicaragua, which by secrecy around its purpose has caused mistrust and suspicion in the United States  (USA, for its part, has ground stations for GPS in its territory and Australia, Argentina, United Kingdom, Bahrain, Ecuador, South Korea, Tahiti, South Africa and New Zealand).
The Russian Global Satellite Navigation System (Globalnaya Navigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya sistema or GLONASS) is a positioning system operated by the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces. It consists of 28 satellites, allowing real-time positioning and speed data for the surface, sea and airborne objects around the world.  In principle GLONASS does not transmit any personally identifiable information; in fact, user devices only receive signals from satellites, without transmitting anything back. However, it was originally developed with military applications in mind and carries encrypted signals that are supposed to provide higher resolutions to authorized military users (same as the US GPS). 
In Brazil, there are four Earth stations that are used to track signals from the GLONASS constellation. These stations serve as correction points in the Western hemisphere and help significantly improve the accuracy of navigational signals. Russia is in close and transparent collaboration with the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), promoting research and development of the aerospace sector of this South American country. In 2013 the first station was installed, located on the campus of the University of Brasilia, which was also the first Russian station of that type abroad. It followed another station in the same place in 2014, and later, in 2016, a third was put in the Federal Institute of Sciences of the education and technology of Pernambuco, in Recife. The Russian Federal Space agency Roscosmos built its fourth Brazilian station on the territory of the Federal University of Santa Maria, in Rio Grande del Sur. In addition to fulfilling its main purpose of increasing accuracy and improving the performance of GLONASS, the facilities can be used by Brazilian scientists to carry out other types of scientific research. 
The level of transparency that surrounded the construction and then has prevailed in the management of the stations in Brazil is definitely not the same as the one applied in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. There are several information that create doubts regarding the true use of the station. For starters, there is no information about the cost of the facilities or about the specialization of the staff. The fact that the station has been put at a short distance from the U.S. Embassy has given rise to conjecture about its use for phone-tapping and spying.
In addition, the vague replies from the representatives of Nicaragua and Roscosmos about the use of the station, have not managed to transmit confidence in the project. It is a "strategic project" for both Nicaragua and Russia, concluded Laureano Ortega, the son of the Nicaraguan president. Both countries claim to have very fluid and close cooperation in many areas, such as in health and development projects. However, none of those collaborations have materialized with such speed and dedication as this particular project. 
Given Russia's larger military presence in Nicaragua, empowered by the agreement that facilitates the mooring of Russian warships in Nicaragua announced by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during his visit to the Central American country in February 2015, and specified also in the donation of 50 T-72B1 Russian tanks in 2016 and the increased movement of the Russian military personnel, it can be concluded that Russia clearly sees strategic importance in its presence in Nicaragua.   This is all observed with suspicion from America. The head of South American Command, Kirt Tidd, warned in April that "the Russians are moving forward a disturbing attitude" in Nicaragua, which "impacts the stability of the region."
Without a doubt, when world powers like Russia or the United States act outside their territory, they are always guided by a combination of motivations. Strategic positioning is essential in the game of world politics. For this very reason, the aid that a country receives or the collaboration it can establish with a great power is often subject to political conditionality.
In this case, it is difficult to know for sure what is the purpose of the station in Nicaragua or even those of Brazil. At first glance, the objective seems neutral – offering higher quality navigation system and providing a different option to GPS –, but given the new importance that Russia is granting to its geopolitical capabilities, there is the possibility of more strategic use.