Russia boosts energy ties with Argentina

Russia and Argentina on Thursday signed a slew of deals furthering energy ties as Moscow reaches out to allies amid its standoff with the West.
Though no firm deals were settled, Russia\’s President Vladimir Putin and Argentina\’s Cristina Kirchner hailed their strategic partnership and oversaw the signing of some 20 memorandums, including on defence.
Among the agreements is Moscow\’s pledge to finance a hydropower plant on Argentina\’s Neuquen River, to be constructed by Russian energy giant Inter RAO together with a group of Argentine companies.
Russia\’s Vneshekonombank\’s chief executive Vladimir Dmitriyev told journalists the bank would provide $1.2 billion after signing the protocol of intention. The Kremlin says Russia will invest $1.9 billion in the project.
Russia\’s Gazprom "is looking into the possibilities of joint development of hydrocarbon deposits in Argentina," Putin said after the signing of a cooperation deal between Gazprom and Argentina\’s YPF state oil company.
The countries also pledged that Russia will build a new nuclear reactor in Argentina. Rosatom nuclear corporation chief Sergei Kiriyenko said he hopes to sign the final deal by the end of the year.
"Rosatom joined the project to construct the sixth power unit of Atucha nuclear plant," Putin said, promising the project will bring "the latest Russian technology" to Argentina.
Moscow aims to boost trade with Latin America, particularly after imposing an embargo on agricultural products from Europe, a tit-for-tat measure responding to sanctions against Moscow over its actions in Ukraine by the European Union and the United States.
Kirchner was wrapping up a warm visit to Moscow where she also opened an exhibition devoted to Argentina\’s charismatic first lady Eva Peron, who died in 1952.
She has found in Putin an ally in Argentina\’s battle against US hedge funds thwarting its effort to restructure its defaulted debt.
In a joint statement, the two presidents stressed that "actions by other countries, let alone private minority shareholders or speculative funds, should not thwart any country\’s sovereign right to settle state debt with the majority of its creditors."
Putin has also voiced support for Argentina\’s drive for sovereignty over the Falklands, for which Buenos Aires is locked in a dispute with Britain since the 1980s.
"Russia supports Argentina\’s efforts to hold direct talks with Britain that would aim to regulate the dispute over the Malvinas islands," Putin said, using the Argentine name for the islands.

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