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Thread: Russia And Nicaragua Beginning New Stage Of Relations – Ortega

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    Default Russia And Nicaragua Beginning New Stage Of Relations – Ortega

    Russia And Nicaragua Beginning New Stage Of Relations – Ortega
    Russia and Nicaragua "begin a new stage of relations striving to consolidate friendship and cooperation in all spheres," Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said on Friday during a meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak who heads the Russian delegation at a regular round of Russian-Nicaraguan political consultations held in the capital of this Central American country.

    Daniel Ortega pointed to the "historical character" of relations of cooperation between Russia and Nicaragua, as well as stated "closeness or similarity of the two countries' stances on majority of international issues."

    As a joint Russian-Nicaraguan statement for the press stresses, "a considerable potential of development of cooperation between the two countries in the political and economic fields was marked during talks, which becomes apparent already in interaction within the framework of the United Nations and different international organizations."

    "The sides consider expanding of cooperation in the energy sphere, construction of hydrotechnical facilities, development of tourism, upgrading of the transport infrastructure (I wonder if that means refurbishing that 10,000 foot bomber runway at Punte Huete the Russians built during the Cold War?), as well as an increase of export of Russian machines, equipment and technologies to Nicaragua as promising," the joint statement stresses.
    Old habits die hard, no?

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    Default Re: Russia And Nicaragua Beginning New Stage Of Relations – Ortega

    Forward positioning and possible Russian GLONASS satellite navigation tracking station

    Moscow Building Spy Site in Nicaragua

    Signals intelligence facility part of deal for 50 Russian tanks


    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Nicuraguan President Daniel Ortega attend a welcome ceremony at an airport in Managua, Nicaragua in 2014 / AP

    BY: Bill Gertz


    The Russian government is building an electronic intelligence-gathering facility in Nicaragua as part of Moscow’s efforts to increase military and intelligence activities in the Western Hemisphere.

    The signals intelligence site is part of a recent deal between Moscow and Managua involving the sale of 50 T-72 Russian tanks, said defense officials familiar with reports of the arrangement.

    The tank deal and spy base have raised concerns among some officials in the Pentagon and nations in the region about a military buildup under leftist Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega.
    Disclosure of the Russia-Nicaraguan spy base comes as three U.S. officials were expelled from Nicaragua last week. The three Department of Homeland Security officials were picked up by Nicaraguan authorities, driven to the airport, and sent to the United States without any belongings.

    State Department spokesman John Kirby said the expulsion took place June 14 and was “unwarranted and inconsistent with the positive and constructive agenda that we seek with the government of Nicaragua.”

    “Such treatment has the potential to negatively impact U.S. and Nicaraguan bilateral relations, particularly trade,” he said.

    The action is an indication that President Obama’s recent diplomatic overture to Cuba has not led to better U.S. ties to leftist governments in the region.
    State Department officials had no immediate comment on the expulsion.

    The action is an indication that President Obama’s recent diplomatic overture to Cuba has not led to better U.S. ties to leftist governments in the region.

    Nicaragua’s Ortega has remained close to the communist Castro regime in Cuba and the leftist regime in Venezuela. He was once part of the communist Sandinista dictatorship, and after winning election as president in 2006 has shifted Nicaragua towards socialism.

    No details of the intelligence site, such as its location and when it will be completed, could be learned.

    However, the site could be disguised as a Russian GLONASS satellite navigation tracking station that is said to be nearing completion. GLONASS is the Russian version of the Global Positioning System network of satellites used for precision navigation and guidance.

    The Nicaraguan and Russian governments in August signed an agreement to build the GLONASS station near Laguna de Najapa, north of the capital of Managua, according to Nicaraguan press reports. Other news reports said the site will be located on the Caribbean coast.

    Pentagon spokesmen had no immediate comment on the Russian-Nicaraguan military and intelligence cooperation.

    A State Department official said, “While any nation has the right to choose its international partners, we have been clear that now is not the time for business as usual with Russia.”
    Southern Command spokesman Lt. Col. David Olson said the United States respects the right of nations to modernize their defenses.

    “We’re aware of Russian engagements in our hemisphere,” he said. “The nature of Russia’s engagements in our hemisphere isn’t new and similar to engagements with other nations. We are confident that our partner nations understand our desire to be their security partner of choice, as well as our commitment to work side by side with them in support of our shared interests and democratic values.”

    A Nicaraguan Embassy spokesman also had no immediate comment.

    The tank deal involves the transfer of 50 T-72 tanks, 20 of which are reported to be en route to Nicaragua as part of a first delivery.

    Protesters in Managua demonstrated in late April against the Russian tank deal. The European Press Agency reported April 28 that the protest was organized by the opposition National Coalition for Democracy and the Independent Liberal Party. One protester held a sign that read. “We do not want Russian tanks, we want bread, medicine, and peace.”

    Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez also has criticized the tank sale, telling the La Prenza newspaper: “It is a matter of concern not because of a threat to Costa Rica … but because one country in the Central American region starts an arms race.”

    Gonzalez said the region needs more healthcare, technology, and infrastructure and not military hardware.

    The Nicaraguan parliament on May 3 passed a measure authorizing foreign military personnel to work in the country. The measure was aimed at permitting Russian military personnel to train Nicaraguans on the use of the tanks. It could also permit Russian intelligence personnel to enter the country.

    U.S. intelligence agencies reported internally several months ago that repression by the ruling Sandinista government has prompted the reformation of several armed groups in Northern Nicaragua who are opposing the Ortega government. The groups have engaged in small-scale firefights with government troops.

    The armed opposition harkens back to the U.S.-supported Contra rebels that were armed during the Reagan administration to oppose the Sandinistas.

    The anti-government groups are being revived after what human rights groups have said were several recent murders of former Contra fighters by suspected government agents.

    Former Pentagon policymaker Mark Schneider said the deal appears to be part of a Russian strategy to expand weapons sales to create opportunities for military bases and to enhance influence in the region.

    “In general, Moscow openly covets new foreign bases in Latin America, the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Balkans, and the Middle East,” Schneider said. “Russia is comfortable with Marxist states. Russia will sell arms to just about anyone and will seek to achieve influence and military advantage. There is obviously no relationship between the sale of T-80 tanks reported by Jane’s and drug smuggling.”

    Jane’s Defence Weekly reported in May that a Nicaraguan congressman, Edwin Castro, said the government plans to use the tanks to combat drug trafficking.

    Russia in October 2013 flew two Tu-160 nuclear capable bombers to Nicaragua and conducted a naval task force visit to Venezuela. Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Nicaragua in 2014 and set the stage for the increased military and intelligence cooperation.

    “The Nicaraguan socialists seem to have pushed the country to the point of economic collapse,” Schneider said. “This has to impact what happens with Russia.”

    Roger Noriega, a former State Department Latin Affairs policymaker, said Managua’s spending on tanks seems like a terrible use of resources for a very poor country.

    “Apparently this is part of Ortega’s ‘cash-for-clunkers’ program to seal political ties with Russia while engaging in purchases that allow both sides to bury pay-offs on both sides of the deal and have some hardware,” Noriega said.

    If Nicaragua had an independent legislature, its members would be asking questions about the deal, he added.

    “Obviously, this is none of our business,” Noriega said. “But it is interesting that other countries in the region need vertical lift and [travel expenses] to carry the fight to narco traffickers, but Ortega has made other arrangements to deal with that phenomenon.”

    “Too bad the Obama isn’t the least bit interested in anything that is happening in Nicaragua—which is fortunate if you’re in the drugs or dictatorship business,” he noted.

    Russia under the Soviet Union operated the largest intelligence facility of its kind in Lourdes, Cuba, until the base was closed in 2002. Reports surfaced two years ago that the facility would be reopened, but Moscow issued a denial that this was the case.

    Lourdes once housed more than 1,500 KGB, GRU military, and Cuban intelligence personnel. The facility was said to be capable of intercepting all electronic communications throughout the southeastern United States.

    Retired Navy Cdr. Daniel Dolan, writing in the blog USNI News, stated that the cost of the tanks, an estimated $80 million, is $9 million more than the entire Nicaraguan defense budget for 2015.

    “The acquisition of tanks is particularly perplexing to many in the region since Nicaragua has relatively good relations with its neighbors, has a growing tourist industry, and can boast in recent years as being the safest country for foreign tourists in all of Central America,” Dolan stated. “Additionally, the ruling Sandinista party (FSLN) does not face a serious a challenge in the pending November elections.”


    Russia to Publish Catalog Disclosing US Military Satellites


    NASA

    TechGet short URL
    2010111763

    Russia is planning to release to public its catalog of near-Earth objects, including US military satellites, a Russian official said.

    Russia will publicly release its own database of Earth orbiting satellites, Viktor Shilin, head of the Russian delegation at the 59th session of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, told the Russian newspaper Izvestia.



    © Flickr/ NNSANews/United Launch Alliance
    Delta IV Heavy Rocket With US Spy Satellite Blasts Off from Cape Canaveral

    The Russian platform would become an analogue to the NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) catalog. It lists over 45,000 tracked objects. Every object has its five-digit number, NORAD ID. However, in addition to tracking non-military satellites and space debris, the Russian catalog will include data which the United States Space Command does not make public.

    The NORAD catalog also restricts data on defense satellites of Washington’s allies, including France, Germany, Israel, and Japan. But it lists Russian military satellites.

    Moscow has proposed to merge national databases into one catalog available for every county involved in space activities. Such a platform would provide information on potentially dangerous situation in space (for satellites and objects on earth) as well as on possible dangers for rocket launches.

    According to a source close to the matter, the Russian proposal was supported by China, but opposed by the US.

    "The US wants to preserve its monopoly in regulating space traffic. Moreover, the US military doesn’t want make data on its objects public," the source said.

    "The American may not be concerned over disclosure of their military satellites information. This would happen anyway," Shilin said.

    The US brought up the idea of deterrence in space last year, citing Russia and China among the possible rivals. According to the Pentagon, Moscow and China is building up their presence in space while the US is lagging behind.



    © Photo: Youtube/TheHomson78
    Taking Up Space: US Wants 'Real Star Wars' With 'Real Weapons'

    Moscow has repeatedly called for the demilitarization of space. In 2008, the Russian and Chinese governments proposed an international agreement to prevent the deployment of weapons in outer space but the US government under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama has consistently rejected launching negotiations to conclude such a treaty.

    In April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov assured that Russia will not deploy weapons in space. The ministry warned that deployment of nuclear weapons in space would provoke an uncontrollable arms race.

    In late-2015, Russia submitted to the UN General Assembly a draft resolution on space demilitarization. However, the document was blocked by Washington.

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    Default Re: Russia And Nicaragua Beginning New Stage Of Relations – Ortega

    Flashback:

    Nicaragua Approves Russian Satellite Base for 'Alternative GPS'


    • Opposition say legislation was rushed through without proper scrutiny
    • Nicaraguan military says it plans to buy Russian jets and patrol boats


    (The Guardian)
    Thu, Apr 30, 2015 | 557 Comments

    President Daniel Ortega has cultivated close ties between Nicaragua and Russia since his return to office in 2007.

    Nicaragua’s parliament has authorized the establishment of a Russian satellite ground station in the Central American country.

    Officials say the base will permit the operation of a system similar to GPS for peaceful uses, such as mitigating natural disasters.

    Opposition legislators object that the measure, which originated as an urgent presidential decree sent to parliament this week, was fast-tracked through without proper time for study.

    The lawmaking body is dominated by President Daniel Ortega’s ruling party.

    Nicaragua and Russia signed an agreement in 2012 to cooperate on space exploration and activity, including ground installations for Glonass, a satellite navigation system designed to be an equivalent of the United States’ GPS.

    Cooperation between Managua and Moscow has increased over the last decade with the return to power of Ortega, who cultivated close ties to the Soviet Union as president in the 1980s.

    Nicaragua’s military has said it is negotiating the purchase of Russian-made MiG-29 fighter jets as well as patrol boats to guard the coasts. The Central American country has also acquired Russian buses, taxis and tractors.

    Russia’s President Vladimir Putin visited Nicaragua last year.



    Opinion: Russian Tank Deal With Nicaragua ‘Back to the Future’ Moment for U.S.

    By: Cmdr. Daniel Dolan, USN (Retired)



    Russian T-72B Main Battle Tank in 2013. Russian Ministry of Defence Photo

    In late April Russia shipped the first 20 of 50 T-72B tanks ordered by Nicaragua—causing a Cold War Back to the Future moment for Latin America watchers.

    The cost of the 50 tanks reportedly totals $80 million. That is $9 million more than Nicaragua’s total 2015 defense budget. The acquisition of tanks is particularly perplexing to many in the region since Nicaragua has relatively good relations with its neighbors, has a growing tourist industry, and can boast in recent years as being the safest country for foreign tourists in all of Central America. Additionally, the ruling Sandinista party (FSLN) does not face a serious a challenge in the pending November elections.

    This puzzling move turns out to be one of several in recent years in which Russia has provided foreign assistance and weapons sales to their old allies in the ruling FSLN party under President Daniel Ortega.

    According to U.S. Army Training and Doctrine (TRADOC) analyst Brenda Fiegel, in 2008 Russia provided Nicaragua with $10 million in foreign aid and provided the Nicaragua military with two modern troop-transport helicopters. Russian Military aid increased to $26.5 million in 2011, and a “fleet of Tiger armored vehicles” was provided by Russia in 2013. President Vladimir Putin made a quick visit to Nicaragua in 2014, and soon after that visit the Nicaraguan Parliament approved the building of Russian GLONASS tracking station on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. Additional sources, including past statements by Russia’s ambassador to Nicaragua, indicate that the satellite tracking station may also include a port facility for Russian ships to use for resupply and refueling when operating in the area. That detail remains unclear at this point.


    Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, attend a welcome ceremony at an airport in Managua, Nicaragua on July 12, 2014. RIA-Novosti Photo

    The space-tracking base also generated media attention last month when thousands of Nicaraguans from the Caribbean coast traveled to the capital, Managua, to protest the continued encroachment on their lands by these foreign-sponsored projects. The building of the Russian base, and especially the Nicaragua Canal mega-project, sponsored by the Hong Kong-based HKND corporation, have met stiff resistance from a coalition of farmers, fishermen, and environmentalists. The eminent domain issues with those foreign projects are forcing thousands of subsistence farmers from their lands.

    Russian media claim the Nicaragua tracking station will improve the GLONASS navigation system (an alternative to the U.S. GPS system). Nicaraguan government supporters of the base claim that the project will make Nicaragua a Central American leader in space.

    These echoes of the Cold War beg the question—why? It does not appear to be domestic politics, or some ambitious plan of the Nicaraguan government; rather, it is more likely driven by Putin’s desire to create mischief in America’s sphere of influence at a low cost, while providing some direct benefit to Russia’s ailing economy.

    That conclusion is supported in part by a report in Costa Rica’s English-language ticotimes.net, which cited Costa Rican political scientist Carlos Zamora. who said, “As erstwhile buyers of Russian material, like Venezuela or Brazil, have fallen on hard times economically, the sale [of tanks] to Nicaragua was ‘oxygen’ to Russia’s markets.

    Under President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela accounted for 80 percent of Russian weapon sales in Latin America, and that market has now wilted with Venezuela’s current economic collapse.

    The Pan-American Post cited Luis Fleschmann, a consultant for the Center for Security Policy as saying, “Given that Russia sees itself as a competing empire to the United States and the West, it is logical for it to aim to expand its influence in countries that have traditionally belonged to the U.S. sphere of influence.” Fleischmann believes his theory was strengthened after Putin’s last visit to Latin America. “The president focused on countries that are hostile (Cuba and Nicaragua), aspire to minimize U.S. influence in the region (Argentina) or jealously compete with the United States for global status (Brazil).


    Hugo Chavez memorial in Managua, Nicaragua in 2014.

    The passing of Chavez in 2013, and Venezuela’s current severe economic problems, are a major loss to Nicaragua and other poor Latin American countries that were receiving, loans, aid, and oil credit through Chavez’s Bolivarian Alliance for our America (known as ALBA). That loss left Nicaragua looking for new sources of income and aid at a time when U.S.-Russian relations had reached their lowest point since the end of the Cold War—enter China with the canal project, and Russia with offers of military and foreign aid.

    Thus far, these Back to the Future Russian deals have not generated the kind of buzz here in the United States that they did in the heady days of the post-Sandinista revolution. If Putin was hoping to produce a mid-1980esque U.S. overreaction to Russian meddling in America’s sphere of influence, then he has failed. Rather, those who seem most upset by Nicaragua’s expenditure of millions of dollars on tanks, and the building of a Russian satellite tracking base, are the poor peasant farmers and fishermen who have for so long dreamed of a better future for Nicaragua.

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    Default Re: Russia And Nicaragua Beginning New Stage Of Relations – Ortega

    T-72s? Man, Nicaragua got the short end of the stick on that deal...

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