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Nicaragua approved Russian forces to train within its borders and conduct military drills with the Nicaraguan army just after the U.S. imposed fresh sanctions on officials from the Central American nation.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega renewed the order, which the National Assembly approved. The decree applies to troops and military equipment from Russia as well as the U.S. and seven Latin American countries to enter the country and participate in “an exchange of experience, training exercises and humanitarian aid operations.”
The U.S. objected to the renewal in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but officials expected that to do little to deter Ortega’s decision.
“We consider this a provocation by the Nicaraguan regime,” Brian Nichols, the head of western hemisphere affairs at the State Department, was quoted by DW-TV at last week’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.
The assembly approved the measure on Tuesday after the U.S. sanctioned 93 Nicaraguan officials, including judges, prosecutors, lawmakers and interior ministry officials over the holding of 180 alleged political prisoners.
The measure will allow 230 Russian troops to enter Nicaragua beginning in July and lasting through the end of the year to patrol the Pacific along with the Nicaraguan Army, according to a report by Reuters.
“First things first—the emperor has no clothes, and anyone concerned about the future of open societies and liberal democracy should denounce Ortega’s regime as a brutal dictatorship,” Roberto Salinas-Leon, Director for the Center for Latin America at the Atlas Network, told Fox News Digital. “More sanctions may lead to a ‘double-down’ show of a false sense of ‘national sovereignty.’”
“The people of Nicaragua will be the ones that most suffer from this new impasse,” he added. “Surely, not inviting Ortega to the Summit for the Americas turned out to be the right call.”
Ortega has remained in power for 15 years, and during that time relations between the two countries have grown more strained due to a number of issues, most notably accusations of U.S. interference.
Ortega has voiced support for Russia’s invasion in Ukraine and has had Nicaragua abstain from condemning Russia in a vote the U.N. and also voted against removing Russia from the U.N.Human Rights Council.
“Despite U.S. and international sanctions, Ortega continues to hail his rule as an outcome of democratic representation—torturing and jailing anyone who dares stands in his path,” Leon said. “What is the proper response in the face of such defiance and the significant deterioration of U.S.-Nicaragua relations?” Salinas-Leon asked.