Nicaragua has defied the United States by inviting Russian troops, aircraft and ships into the country to conduct military training exercises.
Nicaragua has given the green light for Russian forces to train within its borders just days after the United States slapped fresh sanctions on officials from the Central American nation.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega renewed the order which was approved by congress last week, authorizing Russian troops to participate “in an exchange of experience, training exercises, and humanitarian aid operations”, Fox News reports.
The decree will allow Russian troops, military vehicles and ships to enter “on a rotating basis” to conduct training drills with the Nicaraguan army, carry out anti-drug trafficking exercises and provide humanitarian assistance.
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Washington and Nicaragua have been at odds for years but tension between the two nations heightened last Monday when the US imposed visa restrictions on 93 Nicaraguan officials for supporting President Ortega’s regime.
The Nicaraguan leader – a former Marxist guerrilla – faced fierce international backlash after he jailed rivals and cracked down on critical media in order to win a fourth consecutive term in the November elections.
He also outlawed dozens of non-governmental organizations.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement last week announcing the sanctions and urged for the release of all the political prisoners.
“The regime holds over 180 political prisoners, with many suffering from a lack of adequate food, proper medical care and even sunlight.”
“The United States reiterates its call for the immediate and unconditional release of those unjustly detained and the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Nicaragua.”
US President Joe Biden also refused to invite Ortega to last week’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, where Mr Blinken questioned the Nicaraguan leader’s motives to give Russian troops access to the country.
“Countries will make their sovereign decisions,” he said.
“However, the idea that Russia would be a good partner when it comes to law enforcement issues or when it comes to humanitarian assistance, shall we say, does not meet the credibility test.”