Russia says the move is “routine” and that troops will be in Nicaragua for training, law enforcement or emergency response purposes.
The government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has authorized Russian troops, planes and ships to move to Nicaragua for training, law enforcement or emergency response purposes.
In a decree published this week and confirmed by Russia on Thursday, Ortega will allow Russian troops to carry out law enforcement tasks, “humanitarian aid, rescue and search missions in emergencies or natural disasters.”
The Nicaraguan government also authorized the presence of small contingents of Russian troops for “exchange of experiences and training”.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Russian news agency Sputnik that the move was “routine”.
“We are talking about a routine procedure – twice a year – for the adoption of a Nicaraguan law on the temporary admission of foreign military personnel to its territory, in order to develop cooperation in various areas, including humanitarian and emergency responses, combat to organized crime and drug trafficking,” said Zakharova.
Nicaragua also said it would allow the presence of “naval forces and air vessels” from Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico, El Salvador and the United States. The permit is valid for the second half of 2022, according to a report by Russian state news agency Tass.
Ortega has been a strong ally of Russia since his days leading the 1979 revolution that toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza. Ortega was president from 1985 to 1990, before being re-elected to power in 2007.
Dozens of political opposition leaders were arrested, including most potential presidential candidates, in the months before Ortega was re-elected for a fourth straight term last year. His government has shut down dozens of non-governmental groups that he accuses of working on behalf of foreign interests to destabilize his government. Tens of thousands of Nicaraguans were persecuted into exile.