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Russia and China Already Sounding out Alberto Fernandez’s Future Plans for Argentina

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While Sergio Massa was roaming the corridors of power in Washington, assuring investors and the US administration that the next government will be one “in which political moderation will prevail”, from Buenos Aires a powerful advance from Russia and China began being orchestrated with the same purpose: to strengthen ties with Alberto Fernández’s plans and to do business with his prospective government as of December 11th.

There have been several signs of proximity between Russian and Chinese officials to Fernández in Buenos Aires in recent weeks in order to rebuild relations with Argentina and move forward after December with specific projects in the country. (Photo: Internet Reproduction)

Since Kirchnerism’s return to power began to take shape after the primary elections (PASO), there were many indications from Moscow and Beijing to convince Alberto Fernandez about the need to avoid binding himself to the orthodox recipes of the US and start shaping Argentina under the oriental mantle.

The presidential candidate of the ‘Frente de Todos’ and his foreign policy team have had their way paved by Cristina Kirchner in China and Russia during her years at the Casa Rosada. However, in view of the times to come, both Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping decided to strengthen ties with Kirchnerism.

They also gave specific indications of being on the lookout for Alberto Fernandez’s plans for Argentina’s immediate future.

According to Infobae, there have been several signs of proximity between Russian and Chinese officials to Fernández in Buenos Aires in recent weeks in order to rebuild relations with Argentina and move forward after December with specific projects in the country.

Mauricio Macri’s strategy, tied to Donald Trump’s personal plan for the United States, set Russia aside in the past four years and kept China away from Buenos Aires’ orbit.

“It is clear that with Alberto Fernández’s potentially coming to power, there is a great possibility of doing business with Russia because with Macri this did not happen and with a Peronist government a good relationship is possible since it does not view Moscow negatively,” explained Olessia Kasakova, who represents Russian oil companies from the highly industrialized Russian state of Bashkortostan, which are interested in the Vaca Muerta shale oil and gas deposits.

Kasakova has already held meetings with Fernández at the Russian Embassy in Buenos Aires and discussed the possibility of specific investments in the future.

This was not Russia’s only rapprochement to the Frente de Todos presidential candidate and his team.

Two weeks ago a secret meeting took place between Jorge Taiana, former foreign minister and current member of Fernández’s foreign relations team, and Dimitry Belov, who is in charge of the Southern Cone Department and the number two for the Latin America area in the Russian Chancellery.

The meeting took place at the Russian embassy in Buenos Aires, where everything was discussed: from potential Russian investments to the need for Argentina to expand its export market and to address the Venezuelan crisis.

“It was a sincere and very interesting meeting with Russia in view of the coming political moments,” one of the attendees of that confidential meeting told Infobae.

The Venezuelan situation caused much friction between Macri’s government and Putin. In fact, the Russian ambassador to Argentina, Dmitry Feoktistov, has shown wide differences regarding the situation in Venezuela since Moscow has provided strong military support to Nicolás Maduro’s regime and does not accept Juan Guaidó as interim president.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping: Are they smiling at the prospects of a new Argentina government not tied to the USA? (Photo: Internet Reproduction)

Fulvio Pompeo, Macri’s secretary of Strategic Affairs, held a meeting two months ago in Moscow with the Russian Foreign Ministry and tried to convey the need for Russia to accept Guaidó as a way out of the Venezuelan situation.

But Moscow’s position is unyielding: they do not believe in interference in Venezuela even though they support the regime with weapons. Putin seems to be gambling with Maduro’s rupture with the all-powerful Diosdado Cabello or with Héctor Rodríguez. Macri’s relationship with Putin was never very close and remained formal.

In this rapprochement to Venezuela, Kirchnerism feels closer to Russia. Fernández has already said that he does not regard Maduro as a dictator but believes that a regional solution to the Venezuelan crisis should be found that would include a Russian commitment to withdraw military support in order to bring peace to Caracas.

However, Taiana’s meeting with Belov went far beyond the Venezuelan case. In Moscow, Putin’s good relations with Cristina Kirchner are still remembered with a certain melancholy, although the historical mechanism of Russian hierarchical power imposes an unbreakable truism: the Kremlin will always bond with the number one in power.

And in this case, it will be subject to the mandate of Fernández and not Cristina Kirchner. New times, old projects.

Moscow is very interested in the idea of reviving the memorandum signed five years ago between Argentina and Russia for the construction of a nuclear power plant. The giant company Rosatom is on the lookout and behind those million-dollar deals.

Russian Federation ambassador Dmitry Feoktistov was blunt in discussing future nuclear power deals with Argentina when he met with Fernández.

A few days ago he said with no hesitation: “Russia understands that Argentina is going through a complex economic moment but is now willing to fully finance the nuclear power plant. This would not imply any violation of the agreement between Argentina and the IMF, which had forbidden it to contract new loans, because Russia would bring its own money,” he said.

Pure Soviet pragmatism. The construction of a Russian nuclear power plant in Argentina is estimated to cost at least US$10 billion.

Simultaneously, companies such as Gazprom, Petrotool, Burintekh, Avantgrade Oil and JSC Art Odsnastka are determined to immediately advance potential businesses in Vaca Muerta shale.

The commercial representative of the Russian embassy, Sergey Derkach, is in the process of seeking partnership opportunities with Argentine entrepreneurs to create specific business conditions for the times to come.

Projects for all preferences are on the waiting list: the bulk import of one of Russia’s largest fertilizer products, PhosAgro; Skolkovo’s investments in agricultural drones; and the supply of railway equipment and railcar fleet to Argentina by Sinara Transport Machines and Transmashholding, among others.

From the military side, the sale of a polar ship for the Antarctic campaign was pending, since during the years of Kirchnerism in which the icebreaker Irizar was in repairs, it was the Russians who brought their logistics to Argentina for Antarctica.

The Chinese advance

The current Argentine ambassador in Beijing, Diego Guelar, often says that “next to the IMF the only ones who have fresh money to help Argentina are the Chinese”. And Xi Jinping’s administration clearly understands this issue of the future Argentine government’s economic needs based on China’s geopolitical interests in the region.

The meetings Fernández had with the Chinese ambassador in Argentina, Zou Xiaoli, were not accidental. Nor was the visit of Jorge Argüello or Taiana to the Chinese embassy in the context of the foreign policy that is coming to Argentina.

Beijing is on the lookout for Fernandez’s plans, it will seek to strengthen the “integral strategic alliance” and hopes to expand its business agenda in Buenos Aires once the new president settles in the Casa Rosada.

Similarly to the Russians, but with greater availability of funds, the Chinese have businesses on the horizon for all types of industries: from nuclear power plants to the development of 5G technology with Huawei, or the strategic business of dredging and beaconing the Paraná-Paraguay waterway.

It is all part of the plan that Xi Jinping began to build in 2007 with Cristina Kirchner and which is now being enhanced.

Macri’s government for the third time canceled an agreement with China for the construction of a nuclear power plant in Campana due to budgetary issues. This is a US$9 billion investment in purely Chinese technology.

The economic ups and downs of Macri’s administration were unable to sustain that agreement, but Beijing’s patience is infinite and it is now seeing a clearer horizon with Alberto Fernández nearing power.

The presidential candidate of the ‘Frente de Todos’ and his foreign policy team have their way paved by Cristina Kirchner in China and Russia during her passage through the Casa Rosada. (Photo: Internet Reproduction)

“China, as well as the United States, is a key player in the development of the world economy and our closeness to China is not going to collide with the relationship we can establish with the United States,” Argüello explained.

No one knows when a U.S.-China confrontation could occur until the real clashes begin. And one of those potential clashes between the United States and Argentina is called 5G technology development with Huawei at the forefront.

Along these lines, former Foreign Minister Taiana published a paper in Mundosur magazine, which was prepared by a group of Kirchnerist intellectuals, where he stressed: “The US government banned US companies from supplying inputs to Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE, thus seeking to break the global production chain. A few days later Google decided to suspend its links with Huawei, forcing it to create its own operational codes”.

Will there be a virtual endorsement of Chinese espionage? Nobody is answering. Washington has already discarded Huawei technology, as have the United Kingdom and Germany. It expects its partners to do the same in this crusade against espionage by the Chinese communist state.

On the contrary, Taiana is convinced that “behind this ‘commercial war’ (between the United States and China) there is a clear goal of preventing China from achieving, in the future, global scientific-technological leadership and also implies the subordination of the countries that they consider allies,” he stressed in the publication.

There is yet another looming battle with the Chinese landing on a potential Fernández government. But this time the other side of the dispute is not the United States but Belgium.

In April 2021, the deadline for the execution of the dredging and beaconing works of the Paraná-Paraguay waterway will expire. There are some 1,200 kilometers of river routes where around 4,500 cargo ships operate, carrying a large part of Argentina’s agricultural harvest which is exported to the world.

Source: Infobae

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