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Bolivia promises to buy Russian Covid-19 vaccine as new leader pledges to restore relations that ‘deteriorated’ after 2019 coup

Bolivia promises to buy Russian Covid-19 vaccine as new leader pledges to restore relations that  ‘deteriorated’ after 2019 coup
The newly-elected President of Bolivia Luis Arce has pledged to improve ties with Russia, and plans to order its Covid-19 vaccine once it's ready for sale, saying relations with Moscow 'deteriorated' under the previous government.

In an interview with Moscow's Sputnik news agency, Arce outlined the numerous avenues for partnership with Russia that he wants to open up, including the exchange of technology, gas imports and construction of a new nuclear facility together with state energy corporation Rosatom.

Arce blamed the outgoing interim government for tainting the relationship between the two countries.

I believe that Bolivia's relations with Russia deteriorated in the past 11 months due to the presence of the de facto government, which came to power thanks to a coup and which did not understand what is really behind the relations of our countries.

Arce said he would like to personally meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin as soon as possible and get the ball rolling on a new partnership.

The new leader also claimed that Bolivia is interested in buying Russia's 'Sputnik-V' coronavirus vaccine once it's mass-produced and available for export.

"I understand that the vaccine is not for sale yet, but I think it has been already discussed that Bolivia has become one of the first countries that could have it," the president said.

Russia became the first country to officially register a Covid-19 vaccine. The creators of Sputnik V, which is currently in its third and final stage of clinical trials, claim over 40 countries expressed their interest in it.

Arce has previously told the Spanish international news agency EFE that he also intends to restore relations with Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and China, adding that the previous government "has acted very ideologically," depriving the Bolivian people of access to medicine and technologies these countries offer.

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Bolivia is currently recovering from a year of political turmoil. Incumbent President Evo Morales was declared the winner of last October's elections, but eventually agreed to a rerun and resigned from the post after widespread protests and accusations of fraud by Western observers.

Senior opposition lawmaker Jeanine Anez was declared interim president ahead of a new election, which was delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Arce, who succeeded Morales as leader of the socialist party, won in a landslide with over 55 percent of the vote.  He's due to be inaugurated in late November.

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