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17 Feb, 2024 04:26

Ecuador reverses plan to sell Russian weapons to US – RIA Novosti

Moscow previously slammed the transfer as a “rash decision” that was never authorized by the Kremlin
Ecuador reverses plan to sell Russian weapons to US – RIA Novosti

Ecuador has scrapped the planned sale of outdated Russian and Ukrainian military equipment to Washington in exchange for $200 million in new gear, according to Moscow’s envoy to the South American state. US officials had suggested the arms would then be donated to Kiev.

Speaking to RIA Novosti following a meeting with Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa on Friday, Russian Ambassador Vladimir Sprinchan said Quito had reversed course on the weapon swap, explaining that Ecuador would prefer to stay out of the conflict raging in Ukraine.

“Ecuador’s position is not to send weapons and ammunition to hot zones, but to contribute to the resolution of conflicts peacefully, through diplomatic instruments,” he said.

Pressed to clarify whether the arms transfer had been halted, Sprinchan simply answered yes, adding that the decision would “become known formally at the beginning of next week.”

Moscow had raised objections to the deal, under which Ecuador was to ship older Russian and Ukrainian military hardware to the US in exchange for American-made equipment worth $200 million. In comments to a local newspaper, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova argued that the plan would violate Ecuador’s contracts with Russia, “including the obligation to use the supplied property for the stated purposes only and not transfer it to a third party without obtaining the appropriate agreement from the Russian side.”

The spokeswoman added that Quito had made “a rash decision… under serious pressure from outside stakeholders,” and claimed that if the Russian-made equipment was truly scrap, the US would not have offered to replace it.

Washington has acknowledged that it has been on the hunt for Soviet-era weapons in many parts of the world, including Latin America and the Caribbean. Last year, General Laura Richardson, who heads the US Southern Command, said the Pentagon was “working with the countries that have the Russian equipment to either donate it or switch it out for United States equipment.”

Just days after the arms transfer was originally publicized, Russia’s food safety regulator, Rosselkhoznadzor, announced a partial ban on banana imports from Ecuador, one of the world’s largest fruit exporters. The move was not explicitly linked to the dispute over the weapons, however, with officials saying they had discovered a dangerous pest in previous banana shipments from Ecuador.