Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega defends Russia’s position on Ukraine

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Q24N (Reuters) – Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on Monday became one of the first world leaders to back Russia’s stance on Ukraine, saying President Vladimir Putin was right to recognize two separatist-controlled regions as independent supported by Moscow.

A man watches a televised speech by 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

Ortega, who has ruled Nicaragua since 2007 after coming to power in 1979, defended Putin’s decision to recognize the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk during a speech in Managua.

“I’m sure if they hold a referendum like the one held in Crimea, people will vote to annex the territories to Russia,” said Ortega, a longtime opponent of US influence in Central America.

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Ortega also said that Ukraine’s attempt to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) posed a threat to Russia.

“If Ukraine enters NATO, it will say to Russia: let’s go to war, and that explains why Russia is acting like this. Russia is just defending itself,” Ortega said.

Last week, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov visited Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba, Russia’s key allies in Latin America, and said Russia would deepen bilateral relations with the three countries.

Meanwhile, the United States has imposed sanctions on Nicaraguan officials for rigging the last presidential elections held in November in Ortega’s favor. And US Under Secretary of State Brian Nichols described Ortega’s government as being on the road to expulsion from the Organization of American States (OAS).

The article originally appeared on Today Nicaragua and is republished here with permission.

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