Milei’s Plan of Sending Military Aid to Ukraine Isolates Argentina From Its Principal Economic Partners

Orinoco Tribune, April 13, 2024 ─

Argentinian President Javier Milei’s idea of sending military aid to Ukraine may unnecessarily involve Argentina “in a conflict that may be on a global scale,” analyst Gonzalo Fiore told Russian media outlet Sputnik. According to another Argentinian political analyst, Jorge Elbaum, Argentina’s position may “isolate it from its main trading partners.”

Milei, who had already expressed support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the start of his term, recently went a step further by announcing that his Defense Ministry is “reviewing” what kind of military assistance it can provide to Kiev.

In an interview for the US mainstream media outlet CNN, Milei was asked whether, in addition to his public support to Ukraine in international forums, he was considering sending some kind of military assistance. “It is something that Minister [of Defense] Luis Petri is discussing with the Ukrainian authorities to see how we can collaborate,” Milei revealed.

In an interview with Sputnik, Gonzalo Fiore, an expert in international relations, expressed that, rather than a concrete idea, Milei’s statements are more like “a geopolitical positioning of a president who has decided to take sides and get involved in a conflict in favor of Ukraine.” This is another of Milei’s attempts to “send a signal to what he considers to be the Western bloc,” the analyst said.

“However, I think sending military aid is improbable because Argentina’s military capabilities are not in a scenario to participate in a war,” he explained. “Perhaps some people think that the F-16s were acquired for that purpose; but also in theory they are obsolete, and I don’t see it as very viable.”

Argentinian international analyst Jorge Elbaum, in statements to Sputnik, described Milei’s statements as “another of his trial balloons aimed at confusing society,” especially since the president does not have the power to approve military assistance or participation in a war without the approval of Congress.

Elbaum underlined that, since Milei came to power, he has been lying that not only shows his “great ignorance and contempt for the State” but also highlights a “propaganda strategy to align Argentina to US interests, at least in terms of worldview and symbolic aspects.”

In the analyst’s opinion, behind these decisions there are “interests and pressures from Washington,” both at the diplomatic level through the US ambassador in Buenos Aires, Marc Stanley, and at the military level, with the recurrent presence of the head of the US Army Southern Command, General Laura Richardson.

According to Fiore, although Richardson’s recent visit to Argentina may have precipitated Milei’s statement, the position may have less to do with US pressures than with “an overreaction” by the Argentinian government, since “no other US ally in Latin America has been asked to send troops to a foreign conflict.”

Milei’s position is contrary to Argentina’s interests and tradition

In any case, the analysts agreed that getting involved in the Ukraine conflict is a mistake that will have negative consequences for Argentina and that goes against the country’s interests and its own diplomatic tradition.

Fiore said that among the “serious” consequences of the decision could be “breaking the relation between Argentina and Russia, because [sending military assistance to Ukraine] would be declaring war on a country with which we have no conflict of any kind.” He highlighted that Buenos Aires and Moscow “have always had good relations, at all times and with all governments.”

Elbaum considered that Milei’s statements to CNN will not lead to a break in relations with Russia, but acknowledged that “Moscow is of course taking note of these irresponsible actions and threats.” In this regard, he considered that Russia has “every right to question those who are submitting to US interests to challenge the Russian Federation.”

He added that such a stance contributes to alienating Argentina from trade partners which are key for a much-needed economic improvement for the country.

“Argentina is isolating itself from the world and especially from its most important partners, such as Brazil, which has a neutral position in the conflict, with China, with whom it has also engaged in defiant discourses, like what happened with the astronomical observation station in Neuquén,” stated Elbaum.

In his opinion, Milei’s policies like this would lead Argentina to “an isolation that is counterproductive for the economic situation of the country, which needs trade, foreign currency—it needs to sell its products” and, paradoxically, “today it is distancing itself from those countries to which it sells,” referring to Brazil and China, Argentina’s two main trading partners.

However, Fiore warned that the most serious consequence of Milei’s alignment with Ukraine could be “becoming involved in a conflict that could turn into a global conflict in the near future.”

Similarly, Elbaum commented that “involving Argentina in a conflict in Eastern Europe is absolutely irresponsible, contrary to the history of Argentina’s foreign policy.” The analyst recalled that Argentina has been characterized by “a logic of neutrality” and by a “pacifying role” that only had exceptions in its own conflict with the United Kingdom over the Malvinas Islands, and in the 1990s when the government of Carlos Menem (1989-1999) supported the US in the Gulf War against Iraq.

“Argentina is not going through a great moment today in terms of the credibility of its foreign policy,” reflected Fiore, pointing out that Milei’s interchanges with other presidents of the region are not helping to improve it either.

“Milei, with his statements, is trying to improve Argentina’s credibility by aligning it as a player within the Western bloc, but he ends up achieving the opposite: getting into a conflict that is completely alien to the country,” Fiore said.

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