Lavrov’s Visit to Latin America and Multipolarity

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Throughout political history, Latin America has been one of the regions with the strongest leftist winds. For this reason, it became an important area of competition between the United States of America (USA) and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. While the US intervened to maintain its influence in the region, the Soviet Union supported various ideological groups. Acting on the legacy left by the Soviet Union in Latin America in the post-Cold War period, the Moscow administration strengthened its relations with the countries in the region in a short period of time. Especially after Hugo Chavez came to power in Venezuela in 1999, the rising anti-US leftist wave gave Russia a significant room for maneuver.

As China has also increased its influence in Latin America through various agreements and initiatives, the influence of the US in Latin America has been openly discussed. The victory of Luis Arce, who is close to Morales, in the first election held after the coup against Bolivian President Evo Morales, who is known for his leftist identity, in 2019 showed that an important threshold had been crossed. On the other hand, left-wing figures came to power in the Latin American countries of Colombia and Brazil. These developments have brought about the strongest period for the left in Latin America.

As it is known, the Moscow administration is going through a difficult period politically, economically and militarily with the Russia-Ukraine War. Latin America is one of the regions that the Kremlin administration is trying to develop various alliances and relations in order to overcome Western sanctions. In this context, it is necessary to draw attention to the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Latin America.

Between April 17-21, 2023, Lavrov visited Brazil, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. During this visit, Lavrov met with the heads of state of these countries and the Bolivian ambassador to Venezuela. Lavrov’s main argument during his meetings was that the Western power in the world is weakening and a revolution is taking place with the emergence of a new multipolar system.[1]

The first stop of Lavrov’s visit was Brazil. Although Brazil is the largest state in Latin America, it does not show a stance close to the USA regarding the Russia-Ukraine War. In addition, Brazilian President Lula da Silva has a closer stance towards Russia and China than the United States. Brazil, which does not participate in the sanctions imposed by the USA, is one of the most important markets in Latin America for Russia, which is in economic difficulties. On the other hand, Russia is trying to disturb the USA, which disturbs it in Ukraine, in Latin America, which it sees as its backyard. Looking at Washington’s statements criticizing the Lula administration regarding the visit, it can be said that Lavrov has been successful in this regard.[2]

Lavrov’s second stop, Venezuela, is an important country both in world politics and in Latin America. In the New World Order established after the Cold War, the first leftist reaction in Latin America emerged in this country. However, former Venezuelan President Chavez and current President Nicolas Maduro have been subjected to repeated assassination and coup attempts by the US. While the US has failed in these attempts, Russia has increased its influence in the country with its support.

In the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine War, Venezuela regained importance for the US as the West was facing an energy crisis. Therefore, there have been various contacts between Venezuela and the US. Nevertheless, the main reason for Maduro to remain in power today is the support he receives from Russia. In this context, it can be stated that the relationship between Moscow and Caracas will continue to be strong. Lavrov’s visit was already an indication of this.

After Venezuela, Lavrov traveled to Nicaragua. Given Nicaragua’s troubled relations with the United States, the country has become an important ally for Russia. Moreover, Russia is deepening its relations with Nicaragua in many areas, from defense to peaceful nuclear energy.[3] This will be a great gain for Russia. Because Nicaragua is both located in the region where the American continent meets and is important for the planned Nicaragua Canal.

Cuba is a state of critical importance for Russia. Because it is a country governed by leftist values next to the US and has been resisting various sanctions for many years. In this respect, the country, which is seen as the symbol of the anti-US front, is one of the most important actors of the rising criticism against the Western-centered world. In fact, according to Lavrov’s statement, Cuba fully understands the reasons behind Russia’s war against Ukraine. Moreover, the Havana administration,[4] which condemns the sanctions imposed on Russia, is important for Moscow as it opposes the Washington-centered world system.[5]

As it can be understood, it is obvious that Russia and China are in an advantageous position compared to the USA in the region. Despite the sanctions and reactions of the Washington administration, Russia’s influence in Latin America is increasing. For example, the Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation Rosatom signed a contract with Brazil on May 4, 2023 for the supply of natural uranium.[6] The fact that these signatures were made despite the US is extremely important.

As a result, during his visit to Latin America, Lavrov signed several agreements on various issues such as energy, agriculture and investment. Although the agreements were important gains for Russia, the main purpose of Lavrov’s visit was to ensure that Latin America pursues a more independent foreign policy in the face of increasing polarization in world politics. In this way, multipolarity will gain more support across the world, the Western-centered system will be questioned and the US influence in the region will weaken. Brazil’s power, Venezuela’s energy resources, Nicaragua’s geopolitical position and Cuba’s ideological symbolism are important in the process of multipolarity debates in world politics. It can be said that the policies of an actor with strong relations with regional states will gain even more power.

[1] Kirk Randolph, “Lavrov in Latin America: Russia’s Bid for a Multipolar World”, USIP,, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2023).

[2] “Brazil’s Welcome of Russian Minister Prompts U.S. Blowback”, Politico,, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2023).

[3] “Lavrov Will Discuss Strategic Partnership with Government of Nicaragua”, TASS,, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2023).

[4] “Lavrov Thanks Cuba for ‘Full Understanding’ on Ukraine İnvasion”, France 24,, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2023).

[5] Dave Sherwood, “Russia’s Lavrov in Havana on Latin America Drive to Shore up Support”, Reuters,, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2023).

[6] “Rosatom’s Subsidiary Inks Contract to Supply Uranium to Brazil”, TASS,, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2023).

Dr. Emrah KAYA
ANKASAM Dış Politika Uzmanı Dr. Emrah Kaya, Akdeniz Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden mezundur. Yüksek lisans derecesini 2014 yılında Süleyman Demirel Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nde hazırladığı “Latin Amerika'da Sol Liderlerin Yükselişi ve Uluslararası Politikaya Etkisi: Venezuela-Bolivya Örneği” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Kaya, doktora derecesini de 2022 yılında aynı üniversitede hazırladığı "Terörle Mücadelede Müzakere Yöntemi: ETA-FARC-LTTE-PKK" başlıklı teziyle elde etmiştir. İyi derecede İngilizce bilen Kaya'nın başlıca çalışma alanları; Orta Asya, Latin Amerika, terörizm ve barış süreçleridir.