Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov started his Latin America tour with his visit to Brazil on April 17, 2023. As part of the tour that started with Brazil, Lavrov; He visits Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. In the message released by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the subject, it is stated that Lavrov will hold official meetings with the leaders and foreign ministries of the relevant states, as well as with high-level representatives. Therefore, it was emphasized that a busy schedule awaits Lavrov. In a similar statement, it was stated that Lavrov flew to the region with a concrete agenda aimed at strengthening mutually beneficial cooperation in political, commercial, economic, educational, humanitarian, cultural and other fields. Finally, in the statement, it was pointed out that the countries to be interviewed plan to strengthen the international legal institutions of the modern world, which is the structure on which the United Nations (UN) Charter is based.
In this context, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, which are among Lavrov’s stops, are countries known for their long-standing opposition to the West and close relations with Russia. On the other hand, the countries to be visited are those that did not sided with Ukraine within the scope of the Russia-Ukraine War and did not participate in the sanctions imposed by the West against the Moscow administration, including Brazil.
Among the mentioned countries, it can be argued that Brazil has the most normal relations with the West. Therefore, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who won the Brazilian general elections in the last quarter of 2022, was expected to develop good relations with the West. As a matter of fact, in the coup attempt organized against him in the first quarter of 2023, Western states gave messages of support to Lula. But Lula takes a neutral stance in the Russo-Ukrainian War. So that; Lavrov’s visit to Brazil comes shortly after Lula’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
As will be remembered, after meeting with Xi, Lula stated that the only solution to the crisis between the parties is negotiation and dialogue. In addition, Lula, unlike Western actors, refrained from offering any conditions for negotiations to the Moscow administration. Therefore, it can be argued that Brazil’s policies began to conflict with the West and the West did not find the support it hoped for from Lula. In this context, Brazil aims to maintain its relations with both the Russia-China axis and the West at a normal level.
On the other hand, Russia has clearly stated that it has long opposed the Western-centered conduct of international relations. Therefore, it has determined one of its main goals in the international arena as breaking the Western hegemony in this field. Accordingly, it can be said that strengthening the international legal institutions, which is expressed as one of the objectives of the negotiations to be held, refers to Russia’s aim to remove these institutions from the Western axis.
As it can be understood, the ties to be developed with the anti-Western Latin American countries for the Moscow administration and the relations to be developed with the countries that carry out a policy of balance between the West and the Russia-China axis, such as Brazil, are very important for the Kremlin, which is seeking support for the war in Ukraine.
For Russia, Latin America is a geography that offers opportunities to create spheres of influence dictated by powers like Russia. With this, Moscow is also in the desire to develop bilateral cooperation with the regional capitals.
The importance of Lavrov’s visit to Venezuela is due to the fact that both countries are exposed to Western sanctions. As it is known, Russia and Venezuela, which are energy producers, are experiencing some difficulties in energy exports due to the sanctions imposed on them by the West. The two countries, which define each other as strategic partners, are in an effort to strengthen and deepen their cooperation with the motive of seeking new markets where they can export their energy resources.
Lavrov’s other stop is Cuba, which is among Russia’s strategic partners. Here is a remarkable anecdote. Because the visit of the Russian Foreign Minister to Cuba coincides with the date of the Cuban presidential elections. Current Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, whose country is in the worst economic crisis of the last 30 years, hopes to be elected president for the second time. Therefore, on the way to overcome the economic crisis, Diaz-Canel visited Russia in the last quarter of 2022 and signed various oil supply agreements. While Cuba has been embargoed by the United States of America (USA) since 1962; Russia is also seeking to develop its strategic partnership with this country.
Nicaragua, another stop of the Russian Foreign Minister’s visit to the region, is one of the most important geopolitical centers in Latin America for the Kremlin administration. For the USA, Nicaragua is a transit country for land transportation to the South American continent. For this reason, the visit made by Lavrov to Nicaragua is a response to the visit made by US President Joe Biden to Kiev. Also, for all these reasons, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is recognized as one of the Kremlin’s most critical allies.
As a matter of fact, Russia is one of the few countries that recognizes Ortega’s administration, considering the result of the Nicaraguan general elections held in 2021 as legitimate. Similarly, Ortega is one of the rare leaders who supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This attitude of Ortega causes Nicaragua to become increasingly isolated in the international arena and to seek new allies, and this brings about the deepening of Nicaragua’s relations with Russia.
On the other hand, in terms of Russia, Brazil is in a different position from other countries. Because Brazil, which is among the BRICS countries, is one of the emerging economies of the world. Due to this position, Brazil is among the countries that challenge the Western-centered world order, in which the USA is the hegemonic power. It fulfills this challenge through the relations it has developed with China and Russia. In this context, one of the important issues between the two countries is to trade in a currency other than the dollar. Russia and Brazil, the USA’s ability to maintain its hegemony in the international system and, as a result, to impose sanctions on regimes that do not match their own values; connects it to the dollarization of the economy and therefore tends to the search for dedollarization. On the other hand, Russia wants Brazil, whose interests overlap in the long run, not to take any action that would harm the common interests in the Russia-Ukraine War. The fact that Brazil maintains its neutral stance and does not cooperate with the West is one of the issues that Russia attaches importance to.
As a result, Russia wanted to be isolated from the world with the effect of the war in Ukraine; It tries to convey the message that it is not alone through its allies in Latin America. In this context, Brazil under the leadership of Lula, who is already in the BRICS, traditional allies Cuba and Venezuela, and Nicaragua, where relations are deepening day by day with the policies implemented by Ortega, can be described as the main partners of the Moscow administration in the region. Lavrov’s visit is also very important in terms of revealing this.
 “Canciller ruso inicia este lunes una gira por Brasil, Venezuela, Nicaragua y Cuba”, Prensa, https://www.prensa.com/impresa/mundo/canciller-ruso-inicia-este-lunes-una-gira-por-brasil-venezuela-nicaragua-y-cuba/, (Date of Accession: 17.04.2023).
 “Lula reafirma su apoyo ante Xi: “Brasil quiere que la relación con China trascienda más allá de lo comercial”, Prensa, https://elpais.com/internacional/2023-04-14/lula-reafirma-su-apoyo-ante-xi-brasil-quiere-que-la-relacion-con-china-trascienda-mas-alla-de-lo-comercial.html, (Date of Accession: 14.04.2023).
 ““Estamos con usted”, le dice Ortega a Putin en ocasión de su cumpleaños 70”, Swiss Info, https://www.swissinfo.ch/spa/ucrania-guerra_-estamos-con-usted—le-dice-ortega-a-putin-en-ocasión-de-su-cumpleaños-70/47960598, (Date of Accession: 06.10.2022).