As Russian control of Crimea consolidates and the fear of a potential invasion of continental Ukraine increases, Russian activities closer to home in the Western Hemisphere have been largely overlooked or perhaps just disregarded. There have been reports of increasing Russian military cooperation with countries in Latin America that are hostile to the United States, mainly Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. This includes agreements between Russia and the above named countries that would enable Russia to place their naval logistic facilities in Venezuelan, Cuban and Nicaraguan territory. According to Russia’s Secretary of Defense, those facilities could serve long-range aircraft. The motive, according to Russia expert, Stephen Blank is that Russia seeks access to ports and air bases for refueling purposes as well as great power influence.
The Russian invasion of Crimea raises the question of whether or not the old cold war logic remains relevant.
Russia may have given up communism but it did not give up the pride of being an empire with a broad sphere of influence they, namely Vladimir Putin considers belonging to them and to them alone. It seems this was the reasoning behind Russia’s 2008 aggressive attempt to prevent Georgia from joining NATO. This was followed up by Russia’s military invasion which successfully detached South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia, making them politically independent but subjected to Russian authority. The same logic applies to the current crisis in the Ukraine.