The recent visit to Mexico of Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, could face the Mesoamerican country. And it is that the United States could impose sanctions on Mexico if the possible purchase of 50 helicopters of the Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport is finally finalized, an agreement that Lavrov approached with Marcelo Ebrard, the Mexican foreign minister, during a meeting held at the beginning of February in Ciudad from Mexico.
But the business could mean that Mexico worsens its good relations with the United States, its first business partner, as a senior official of the Trump administration said on Thursday that the operation could involve economic sanctions. The official is Hugo Rodríguez, deputy assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the State Department.
“According to our initial investigation, it seems that such a sale would cause potential sanctions under the CAATSA law,” Rodriguez said. CAATSA serves to counteract adversaries through sanctions, a law signed by Trump in August 2017 and specifically aimed at imposing sanctions on North Korea, Iran and Russia. Thus, the official responded to Democrat Dean Phillips, representative of Minnesota, who had asked Rodriguez if the sale of helicopters could involve the application of sanctions under section 231 of CAATSA.
The sale announced by Lavrov took place in a tour he made in Latin America that included stops in Cuba and Venezuela. During his meeting with Ebrard, the Russian minister also expressed his interest for Mexico to promote the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), a regional body created in 2011 and whose promoter was Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
The political crisis that Venezuela is going through was another of the issues that Lavrov and Ebrard touched on. Mexico is one of the few countries in the Americas that still recognizes Nicolás Maduro as president, while Russia is one of the main partners of Chavismo. In that regard, Lavrov said in a press conference after the meeting that Russia and Mexico support a peaceful resolution of the Venezuelan conflict based on the dialogue.
Much of the economic relations between the two countries has been based on the sale of Russian equipment and weapons to deal with organized crime. On the other hand, Mexico sees Russia as one of the main markets where to sell high quality tequila for luxury customers. Bilateral trade was 2.8 billion dollars in 2019, a small amount compared to the 550 billion dollars that cross the US-Mexico border each year. .