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Argentina’s NATO partnership bid to let US tighten its grip — expert

According to Andrey Pyatakov, the Argentinian authorities' decision is both a declarative step and evidence of the wish to close economic gaps by expanding military-technical cooperation

MOSCOW, April 19. /TASS/. Argentina, having applied for NATO's global partner status, hopes to modernize its armed forces, but it may receive only old equipment that is also costly to maintain, Andrey Pyatakov, a leading researcher at the Latin America Institute under the Russian Academy of Sciences, has told TASS.

According to the expert, the Argentinian authorities' decision is both a declarative step and evidence of the wish to close economic gaps by expanding military-technical cooperation.

"The more so since Argentina has a South American example. Colombia is a global partner of NATO, and in conformity with this status both military-technical cooperation and programs for assistance to the development of the Armed Forces of Colombia by the United States were drawn up," he recalled. "An important factor is that Argentina has a historical prerequisite for upgrading its status within NATO. Since 1999, the country has had the status of a major US ally outside NATO, while only Colombia and Brazil are the only two South American states that have had this status."

Pyatakov noted that while this status was previously in a sort of "dormant state," President Javier Milei, who came to power in Argentina, has designated the United States and Israel as the closest foreign policy allies.

"The application for the global partner status is a logical extension of his foreign policy. Just recently, a contract was signed to sell Argentina up to 24 old F-16 fighter jets," Pyatakov said. "Apparently, Argentina pins great hopes on the ‘modernization’ of its armed forces. But most likely, as it was the case with the F-16s, it will be sold old military equipment, both costly to maintain and requiring repairs."

"The odds are Argentina may finally end up under the influence of the United States and NATO," Pyatakov said.

Asked about the impact of the situation on regional security, the expert expressed the opinion that the Southern Command of the US Armed Forces would get a reliable partner.

"The command regularly conducts naval exercises. Exercises were also held with Brazil during [President Jair] Bolsonaro's [presidency]. So, in all likelihood, Argentina will become such a platform," Pyatakov forecasts. "A few months ago, it became known that the United States is building a semi-civilian, semi-military base in Patagonia. The project is Pentagon-funded. In political science, there is such a concept as a ‘quasi-base,’ that is, a military base that is disguised and operates as a civilian facility. This base is being built in Neuquen province, where China has a radar."

"There is an unmistakable bias toward security integration with the United States. South America has no security mechanisms of its own," Pyatakov said. "In fact, all those security mechanisms that are in place are in one way or another supervised by the US."

Argentina's bid

Argentina’s Defense Minister Luis Petri has said the authorities have applied for cooperation with NATO as a global partner.

On May 31, 2018, NATO's global partnership treaty with Colombia was signed in Brussels. The then Colombian leader, Juan Manuel Santos, stated that the country was not going to become a member of the alliance or take part in its military operations. In May 2022, US President Joe Biden officially granted Colombia the status of the United States’ major non-NATO ally (MNNA).