Friday, November 17, 2017

Interview/Entrevista: Las expectativas de América Latina y Rusia en la Cumbre del Gas

"Las Expectativas de America Latina y Rusia en la Cumbre de Gas"
Entrevista para:
Sputnik Mundo
16 November 2017
Originally published:

El analista Alejandro Sánchez valora positivamente que Bolivia y Venezuela estén asociados estratégicamente con potencias como Irán y Rusia en el Foro de Países Exportadores de Gas por la posibilidad de inversiones y desarrollo de infraestructura.

"Rusia tiene muy buenas relaciones con Latinoamérica desde México hasta Argentina. Y con Bolivia, que será sede de la Cumbre del Gas, ha tenido iniciativas muy importantes en los últimos cinco o seis años", destacó el experto Alejandro Sánchez en su análisis previo al inicio del IV Foro de Países Exportadores de Gas. 
"Hace algunos meses la empresa rusa Lukoil ganó un contrato en el Golfo de México para explorar un bloque de petróleo que tendría hasta 985 millones de barriles. Desde el punto de vista geopolítico es muy importante porque hoy en día las relaciones entre EEUU y México no son las mejores —por la renegociación del NAFTA, la inmigración y muro mediante- y México está buscando otros socios no tradicionales como Rusia para que inviertan en su industria de energía", dijo Sánchez.
La ciudad de Santa Cruz en Bolivia concentrará las miradas mundiales entre el 21 y 24 de noviembre. Allí se reunirán delegaciones de al menos 19 países, con la presencia de presidentes, ministros, empresarios y expertos en materia energética. El Grupo de Países Exportadores de Gas se fundó en 2001 en Irán. Desde entonces no ha parado de crecer en cuanto a sus integrantes e influencia geopolítica. Bolivia y Venezuela son las naciones suramericanas que pertenecen al bloque, mientras que Perú lo integra en carácter de observador.

Al finalizar el encuentro se firmará la declaración de Santa Cruz, que definirá los lineamientos de producción y comercialización de este insumo clave para las economías de los países.

TNI: Russia May Make Another Power Play in South America

"Russia May Make Another Power Play in South America"
W. Alejandro Sanchez
The National Interest
12 November, 2017
Originally published:

"And It's Not Venezuela This Time..."
Russian president Vladimir Putin will travel to Bolivia to attend the fourth Gas Exporting Countries Forum summit, which will take place on November 20–24. This is President Putin’s first trip to the landlocked nation, and while Russia-Bolivia relations are not as researched and discussed as Moscow’s relations with Nicaragua orVenezuela, they are nevertheless worth discussing in depth.
In late October, the Bolivian daily El Deber quoted Russian ambassador to Bolivia Vladimir Sprinchan about a meeting he held with Bolivian authorities regarding President Putin’s upcoming visit. The Russian diplomat explained that “we analyzed different issues as Bolivia is a partner of Russia and we have a lot of common views, we have the same ideology, and that is very important.” Indeed, on 24 October, theRussian Federation used its veto power to block a resolution in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to “extend for one year the work of international inspectors investigating chemical-weapons attacks in Syria.” Bolivia, currently a rotating member of the UNSC, also voted against the resolution.
Apart from diplomatic support, Bolivia-Russia relations revolve around energy initiatives. For example, Russian energy giant Gazprom operates in Bolivia, dating back to a 2007 memorandum of understanding with the Bolivian state-owned petroleum company Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos. Gazprom started production on the Incahuasi field in 2016, has scheduled drilling in the Azero block for 2018 and has expressed interest in expanding its Bolivian operations even further. The Russian energy giant is apparently interested in drilling for hydrocarbons in La Ceiba, Vitiacua and Madidi. Furthermore, a October 6 Gazprom press release notes that the two sides have the “intention to set up a joint venture for gas marketing in Argentina and Brazil.” While it is debatable whether this will actually occur, such ambitious projects stress the close ties between Gazprom and Bolivia these days.
Even more, the Bolivian Nuclear Energy Agency (ABEN) and the Russian energy company (ROSATOM) signed a contract for the construction of a nuclear research and technology center (NRTC) last September. According to a statement by ROSATOM, the NRTC to be located in the Bolivian city of El Alto will comprise of a water-cooled research reactor, a multipurpose experimental gamma-installation center, engineering facilities and various laboratories. Investments in the project will reportedly amount to more than $300 million and the first facilities should be commissioned in 2019. ROSATOM is also increasing ties with Bolivia’s Higher University of San Andres.
As for potential projects that may materialize when President Putin visits, weapons sales are the most likely. According to the renownedJane’s, the commander of the Bolivian air force has recommended that La Paz acquire Russian Yakovlev Yak-130 “Mitten” light-attack aircraft to replace the service’s Lockheed T-33s. While Bolivia’s defense budget is not as large as Venezuela’s, the country is fertile ground for Russian weapons exports. Afterall, President Morales has strived to modernize his nation’s military and has carried out interesting acquisitions recently, including a radar system from Thales and Super Puma helicopters from Airbus. There have not been major Russian-Bolivian weapons sales recently, but the two governments did sign a defense cooperation agreement back in August, which can be seen as the first step by Moscow for larger weapons transfers to Bolivia.
The media coverage of the upcoming Gas Exporting Countries Forum summit will understandably center on the decisions of the twelve-member bloc regarding gas production. Nevertheless, it is also important to monitor meetings between the attending delegations and any potential bilateral projects that could come out of them. So far, in spite of ideological ties, Bolivia-Russia ties have been limited, with a strong focus on energy initiatives, but that also means that there is plenty of space for growth.
W. Alejandro Sanchez is an analyst that focuses on geopolitical and defense related affairs, with a focus on the Western Hemisphere. His analyses have appeared in numerous refereed journals includingSmall Wars and Insurgencies, Defence Studies, the Journal of Slavic Military StudiesEuropean Security, Studies in Conflict and Terrorismand Perspectivas. Follow him on twitter: @W_Alex_Sanchez
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of any institutions with which the author is associated.