Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 2, No. 10, October 2014.
By Darya Vakulenko
Vladimir Putin’s most recent trip to Latin America is a sign of an ongoing Russian push to expand its influence and diversify foreign allies. In mid-July, the Russian president visited Cuba, Nicaragua, Argentina and ended his trip in Brazil, where the BRICS countries gathered for their 6th annual summit.
Throughout his tour, Putin discussed similar topics: assistance in developing and exploring new energy sources; installation of Global Satellite Navigation System (GLONASS), the Russian response to the U.S. Global Positioning System (G.P.S.); and agreements on boosting the presence of official Russian media in Latin America.
On energy, Putin and his team showed real determination to strengthen Russia’s position in the region. In Argentina, Rosatom, a Russian state-owned nuclear agency, submitted a proposal to construct the third unit for the Atucha nuclear plant. , In Cuba, Russian state-oil companies were the most active of the delegation. Zarubezhneft presented plans to develop oil fields west of Boca de Jaruca, and Rosneft will search for offshore deepwater oil. Additionally, the Russian energy holding company, Inter RAO, will build four energy blocks for Maximo Gomez, an electrical plant in East Havana.
The push to install the navigation GLONASS system in each visited country was clear, as Russia is determined to become independent from the United States’s GPS network. For that reason, Putin and his government have resolved to place more control centers in the Western Hemisphere and thus improve the quality of the GLONASS constellation. Currently, apart from former Soviet states, only Brazil holds a GLONASS earth control station, on the campus of the University of Brasilia. There are plans to increase cooperation with the Brazilian Space Agency and place two more control centers in Pernambuco and Rio Grande do Sul.  Continue reading