Brancaleone in Moscow

Alberto Fernandez and Vladimir Putin

A recent statement by the Argentine president, face to face with Vladimir Putin, stating that he was “stubborn” that “Argentina has to stop having such a great dependence on the Fund and the US” and then the proposal that our country “become a gateway for Russia to enter Latin America in a more decisive way”, will surely swell the populated museum of the international blunders of Kirchnerism.

Similar to the Cold War, the great powers avoid direct clashes to confront through smaller states and/or supporting one side within an internal conflict of a given country, as happened in Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Syria, Afghanistan, etc, all the rest of us start to function as pieces of a planetary chess and prudence is the key word. At the time of Fernández’s declaration, the greatest power is challenged by China in Taiwan and Russia in Ukraine. In strategic terms, after the role of the missiles in Cuba, Russia never exhibited an overly anxious will to penetrate Latin America, but now that NATO is testing its borders, it is entirely to be expected that it will react with occasional maneuvers to annoy the United States in its backyard. And there Fernández dived.

If the declaration had been “we have to further strengthen our cooperative ties with Russia and the United States as highly responsible protagonists of the new international order in development” the mess would have been even applaudable. Mariano Caucino, an expert on Russia, has just rightly compared Fernández to Zelig, Woody Allen’s unforgettable character who told everyone what they were waiting to hear. But by denouncing -even more so in public- that he finds our relationship with one too negative and inviting the other to increase its presence on our continent, he unexpectedly gave a real surprise not only to Washington but also to Putin himself, surely not interested in opening a front storm of such magnitude with the United States, in a region of low priority for both but much less for Russia, which knows the Monroe Doctrine and its “America for Americans” very well.

Because exercising control of a country on a continent where the United States has always weighed heavily and Russia practically nothing and, all of a sudden, stating (in public!) that this algorithm should change -only Castro and Chaves tried it before- requires a muscle and a very long-term vision, directly Copernican, hitherto unprecedented in an Argentine foreign policy that has only stumbled over its own feet. No one is free to ever say something nonsense, but we must avoid doing it with emphasis.

It is known that Dr. Fernandez is forced to wear one of two hats, depending on the occasion. Perhaps the anti-imperialist nuance of his statement aimed at the ears of the deep Cámpora and, on the other hand, sweetened those of the tender Putin (“It is an honor to meet him, to look into his eyes”, Fernández dixit) so that, an improbable pirouette, Russia gives us its special drawing rights in the Monetary Fund. Play it again, Sam.

The naive arrogance of running as a “gateway” for Muscovite expansion in Latin America should not have gone down too well -even in Havana- in the other thirty-three foreign ministries in the region: each one aspires to manage its national interests – with Russia included – in a sovereign way, without the need for a picturesque porteño to assume the power to open or close the flow of any power in the region. Repeated and foreseeable failure: Since the disappearance of Fidel Castro, feverish Kirchnerist numen have dreamed of putting themselves at the forefront of the Great Homeland and its Sarrasani of Three Tracks.

There being an obvious proportional relationship that connects the tensions in Ukraine with the hypothetical Russian interest in increasing its penetration in these parts, the Palacio San Martín – where Argentina’s foreign policy was once designed – had to warn its President that a very foreseeable decrease in that conflict would necessarily cool Putin’s eventual interest in such a Brancaleone crusade, leaving us hanging from the brush. But it is already known, the suspicion tends to grow that, until 2023, around there it would be convenient for us to close the Chancellery and rent the building.


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