Argentina’s Minister of Economy Axel Kicillof averred that close ties between his country and Russia are “a fact, not a wish,” while pointing out what he called the “complementation” and “natural understanding”between them. In addition, Kicillof heralded the 1000% increase in bilateral trade.
Speaking on June 19 at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum, Kicillof said “Tighter ties between Russia and Latin America and Russia and Argentina are not a wish, but a fact. When you analyze past years of bilateral trade, you will find a surprising increase of 1,000%, one that has grown the most in Argentina’s foreign trade.” Observers said that Kiciloff was apparently speaking about the close ties Russia has developed with Venezuela, for example, during the years of the Chávez and Maduro governments that have also been aligned with Cuba.
“This last chapter of the world economy has had so called emerging economies as true growth engines; those in Latin America, the Russian (economy), have grown at much more higher rates than the average of the world economy,” said Kicillof. The “economic power” of Russia and Latin America is “undeniable,” said Kicillof, who had that the ties are a“need and not simply a will.”
“It is also true that, unlike other countries of such economic volume as that of Russia’s, there is a huge complementation between both economies. Many of the products Argentina has as exporting surplus are needs for Russian growth, and many products of Russia complement needs to our economy” Kicillof said, describing the bilateral relation “a matter of natural evolution of the world's economic structure and of the solid complementation that exists between the economies.”
Kicillof also said there was an “important political element that in the Argentine-Russian case has been central in taking economic ties to a higher level”. In effect the minister said that a Russian president, in 2010, visited Buenos Aires for the first time, followed by Vladimir’s visit in 2014 and “in April we were with President Cristina Fernández in Moscow strengthening those ties.”
“Like we did with the BRICS (ed. note: Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), we signed an agreement that takes the strategic, comprehensive relation to a different level, that means the presidents (Cristina Fernandez and Vladimir Putin) considered the relation in the long term,” said Kicillof.
On June 18, the opening day of the forum, Kicillof pointed out another area of complementarity between Buenos Aires and the Kremlin. “The things that Argentina needs are produced in Russia, the food that Argentina is massively producing are needed for the Russian economy,” Kicillof said.
In April, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. It was there that the two leaders inked a number of different deals and confirmed closer relations. For example, the two countries signed a number of deals on developing hydroelectric, nuclear and fossil-fuels, while also agreeing to use each other's currencies in trade. "There were important long-term deals made in economic and political spheres. Russia and Argentina are entering a new stage of cooperation," Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said.
Argentina and Russia signed a $2 billion memorandum in advance of building a new hydroelectric dam. The VEB bank of Russia will provide $1.2 billion of the total investments needed, of which 35 percent will go to Argentine subcontractors. Also, Russia will also give access to its nuclear power technology. A deal is expected by the end of 2015, which could cost billions of dollars. Putin said that the Russian nuclear power company, Rosatom, will be part of a project to build part of the Atocha nuclear power plant.
Russia’s Gazprom will explore and develop gas field with YPF, of which 51 percent is owned by the Argentine government. That deal may amount to more than $1 billion in investment, according to a statement from the Argentine Ministry of Industry. Another Russian company, Uralmash, will build an oil equipment manufacturing plant, which will mean another $1.9 billion in Russia investment.
Military cooperation was also a subject of discussion during the April 2015 meetings between Fernandez de Kirchner and Putin. Russia has long been a supporter of Argentina's claims on the Falkland Islands: a South Atlantic archipelago that the Spanish-speaking world knows as the Malvinas Islands and which were the subject of a war between the United Kingdom and Argentina in the 1980s. The islands are known for significant offshore petroleum petroleum deposits and fisheries. The president of Argentina said in April after her meetings at the Kremlin, “We thank Russia for the support it has historically provided in the Malvinas question, in having the resolutions of the United Nations observed so the United Kingdom resolves to sit in the table to dialogue." Putin said, “Russia supports Argentina's striving for direct talks with Britain to achieve prompt resolution to the Malvinas Islands dispute.” The Russian leader announced that "military collaboration” between the two countries will increase. The two signed 23 agreements in April, one of which was on defense matters. Putin said, "The agreement on military collaboration and data protection will enable the considerable increase of practical cooperation in this field.”