MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu will depart on Wednesday for a three-day Latin American tour which includes visits to Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, a Defense Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.
According to Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, Shoigu will discuss military and military-technical cooperation with defense and state officials in these countries, and "exchange opinions on key issues of global and regional security."
Russia is actively pursuing defense cooperation with Latin American countries, which includes sales of weaponry, construction of naval maintenance and resupply facilities, as well as the occasional use of local airbases for landing of Russian strategic bombers on global patrol missions.
Russia's relations with a number of Western countries, as well as with NATO, deteriorated significantly over the Ukrainian crisis. Moscow has repeatedly expressed readiness to cooperate, including in the military sphere, with China, India, Latin American countries, Southeast Asia and the Arab world, including increasing the number of military bases abroad.
In December 2014, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said Moscow plans to increase its military and technical cooperation with Latin American countries by developing their ports and local airports for military use.