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Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega defends Russia’s position on Ukraine

A man watches a televised speech of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to mark the 88th anniversary of the death of guerrilla leader Augusto Cesar Sandino, in Managua, Nicaragua February 21, 2022. REUTERS/Maynor Valenzuela

On Monday, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega became one of the first foreign leaders to support Russia’s stance on Ukraine, saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin was correct in recognising two districts controlled by Moscow-backed separatists as independent.

What Ortega said: During a speech in Managua, the former Marxist rebel, who has led Nicaragua since 2007, after initially coming to power in 1979, defended Putin’s decision to recognise the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk.

  • “I am sure that if they do a referendum like the one carried out in Crimea, people will vote to annex the territories to Russia,” said Ortega, a long-time opponent of U.S. influence in Central America.
  • Ukraine’s bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), according to Ortega, is a threat to Russia.
  • “If Ukraine gets into NATO they will be saying to Russia let’s go to war, and that explains why Russia is acting like this. Russia is simply defending itself.”

What’s going on: Yuri Borisov, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, visited Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba, three significant Russian allies in Latin America, last week and announced that Russia would strengthen bilateral ties with all three nations.

  • Nicaragua’s previous election, in November, was manipulated in Ortega’s favour, according to the US, which has slapped penalties on Nicaraguan officials.
  • Ortega’s regime, according to US Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols, is on the verge of being kicked out of the Organization of American States.
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