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Between aircraft carriers, buying F-16s and NATO, is the world fighting over Argentina?

Between aircraft carriers, buying F-16s and NATO, is the world fighting over Argentina?

(CNN Spanish) – The Milei government’s rapprochement with the United States and the West is evident: in almost six months of government, Casa Rosada signed the purchase of F-16 fighter jets from Denmark (a move approved by Washington), the largest military acquisition in decades, and its defense minister, Louis Petrie, as a “global partner” of NATO. requested to become, making it a key non-NATO ally achieved in 1998 during the government of another pro-Western president, Carlos Menem. .

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington conducted military exercises with the Argentine navy in Argentine waters, which did not happen. Since 2010.

President Milei, during an interview with CNN, declared his support for Ukraine and Israel in their respective conflicts with Russia and Hamas, aligned himself with the interests of NATO, and expressed his opposition to Iran. This followed an Israeli attack against the Iranian embassy compound in Syria in mid-April, with missiles and drones fired from Tehran at Israel.

Argentina once knew how to make neutrality a policy: the country avoided participation in two world wars and determined through its diplomacy Mediation statusIn the international organization N. However, in recent decades, Argentina has experienced a pendulum swing between its integration with Western powers, led by the United States, and its temporary relationship with China, sometimes mixing the two.

During the presidency of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and later Alberto Fernández, relations with China, Venezuela and Iran grew. At the same time, during the government of Mauricio Macri, efforts were made to strengthen relations with the United States and Europe.

US Ambassador to Argentina Mark Stanley, Argentine President Javier Millay, US Southern Command Commander General Laura Richardson and Argentine Defense Minister Luis Petrie pose for a photo during Richardson’s visit to Ushuaia, Argentina. (Credit: Getty Images via Argentina Presidency/AFP)

But now Miley, a self-proclaimed libertarian who already declared himself pro-Western during the campaign and says he is aligned with the United States and Israel, is focusing precisely on that connection, while China tries to assert its presence in the bogus country. Relationships spanning decades.

The superpowers seem to be squabbling over some key issues related to Argentina, and the country’s importance is likely to increase. But is it really so?

“There is more international activity, which draws more attention to Argentina’s position. We are leaving that dull isolation that we used to be,” said Alejandro Corpacho, director of the Security and Defense Laboratory at Argentina’s University of Macroeconomics (Usema).

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Movements on the Rio de la Plata

Meanwhile, with the arrival of the aircraft carrier George Washington in Argentine waters for the “Passex Gringo-Gaucho II” exercise as part of the Southern Seas 2024 exercise, Buenos Aires appears to have reappeared on the Western defense and NATO map, along with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay. Took the American ship to the countries.

The George Washington has a displacement of nearly 100,000 tons and a crew of about 5,000 men. It is one of the largest and most powerful ships in the world, along with its sister ships of the Nimitz class.

On the other hand, a French fleet with the Donerre helicopter carrier at the end of April, a Displacement of 21,500 tonsand its companion ship, the Guépratte, arrived in Argentina’s capital port on a diplomatic mission, Tonnerre and the navy’s captain confirmed, before departing for Mar del Plata to participate in exercises with the Argentine navy. Adrian Schar.

“This is the most important naval visit to France in the last 14 years,” Schar added.

The Donnerre helicopter carrier of the French National Navy in the port of Buenos Aires. (Credit: CNN)

“This military measure shows that France and Argentina are great strategic partners, and we know the great commitment of the Argentine authorities to Ukraine and Israel,” French Ambassador to Argentina Romain Nadal told a press conference on board. CNN participated in it.

“France and Argentina share values ​​and interests globally, and around territorial security in Latin America, especially in the South Atlantic and Antarctica. Against illegal fishing, illegal smuggling and other intrusions,” the ambassador added.

Regarding the future of relations with the Millay government, Nadal said, “We welcome Argentina’s desire to contribute to international stability in defense of shared values ​​with NATO countries, values ​​respected under international law. For democracy and freedom, of course.”

Asked about Buenos Aires buying French military equipment, Nadal assured that France “would love it” but they were aware of the “difficult budget situation” in Argentina.

The US Coast Guard Cutter James on February 17, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Credit: Joe Radle/Getty Images)

“There is historic cooperation in this field, and there is ongoing discussion for various structural military equipment for the Argentine Army,” he added.

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Argentina often uses French weapons, among which historical fighters stand out. Mirage 3 and Super edenderedAnd recently four patrol boats The Argentine Navy has 90 Govind-class naval vessels attached to it.

On Monday, April 29, the US Coast Guard Cutter James arrival to Buenos Aires to conduct “joint operations on the high seas with their Argentine counterparts,” according to an official statement.

Both the President ml As Defense Minister, Patricia BullrichThey visited the cutter James anchored in Buenos Aires.

China and Argentina’s Relations with the West

Meanwhile, China is trying to stabilize its relations with Argentina, achieved in previous years: the close relationship with the government of Cristina Kirchner is the deep space station in Patagonia, the yuan “swap” agreement launched in 2009 to increase reserves in foreign currency. China’s growth as a second trading partner, Behind Brazil—relegated to third place in March this year—behind Brazil and the European Union.

On April 25, just days before Argentine Foreign Minister Diana Mondino visited Shanghai and Beijing, the Chinese government pledged that the two countries are “comprehensive strategic partners.”

The visit was highly anticipated, with Miley promising during the campaign that her government would not have ties with China — “We don’t make deals with the Communists,” she told Bloomberg. The reality of the relationship and the work of the government seems to have tempered Miley’s speech, which now seeks at least a constructive relationship with the Asian giant.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin speaks in Beijing on July 24, 2020.  (Photo: via GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images).

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin speaks in Beijing on July 24, 2020. (Credit: via GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)

Indeed, Mondino was assured “Bilateral relations with China are important for our country,” Argentina said during a meeting with Vice Minister of Commerce and China’s International Trade Representative Wang Showen in Beijing on Monday, according to a statement from Argentina’s foreign ministry.

In a meeting with Chinese Vice President Han Zheng, Both They “acknowledged the importance of deepening bilateral cooperation and creating conditions to strengthen relations between the two countries,” describing Argentina’s and China’s economies as “complementary.”

Also, Mondino and Zheng Reaffirmed China’s mutual support for Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands and Argentina’s mutual support for the “One China” policy toward Taiwan indicate continuity in the foreign policy of the two countries.

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André Serpin Pont (Crying), head of the regional coordinator for economic and social research, said that “Argentina is limited in its ability to maneuver away from China and closer to the West because of its large number of financial and commercial obligations”.

Therefore, according to Serbin Pont, the Millet government “is trying to align itself with the West, from the story in general and from some elements of a strategic nature, such as investment in the defense sector, but it is still limited. They are great trading partners and by essential issues such as financial dependence due to the transfer problem. Celebrated in 2009 , the “swap” deal, which consists of debt in yuan with the intention of importing from Argentina bought in China, was carried out against the backdrop of difficulties in Buenos Aires in accessing foreign currency.

NATO China Argentina

Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen (left) congratulates Argentine Defense Minister Luis Petrie at a signing ceremony for the sale of 24 Danish F-16 fighter jets to Argentina. (Credit: BO AMSTRUP/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)

Procuring American-made Danish F-16s is key here: Miley leaned toward this option, rejecting the other serious contender.JF-17 fighter jet made by Chinaand whose purchase was negotiated during the government of Alberto Fernández.

Historically, Argentina’s armed forces have operated equipment of Western origin, mainly American, French and British, so the purchase of the JF-17 would represent a significant geopolitical shift for the country, which will have China as its main supplier of aircraft. Troops.

Similarly, beyond Miley’s campaign statements, Corbacho felt that he was “not interested in moving away from China, but interested in getting closer to the United States,” which, according to his research, the previous government was “intolerable.” Outcome” should approach Washington for ideological reasons.

“We are in a new international environment, which is increasingly not permissive, and part of economic relations is accompanied by some gestures towards foreign policy or some gestures towards realignment,” he said.

“Argentina is increasing its approach to the United States and lowering the tone of its relationship with China, but not economically,” he added.

It seems too early to say that a dramatic change is about to happen: American and French warships will visit not just Argentina but almost the entire South American region, and relations with China will continue to be central, even if the public doesn’t like a president like this.

In this regard, Serbin Pont told CNN that Miley’s rapprochement with the West is seen as part of a “domestic political strategy”. “In other parts of the world there is interest in interacting with ideological sectors, and this allows for a greater degree of legitimacy. But Argentina’s relevance in real strategic terms is, to say the least, questionable.”