Argentine, Russian presidents sign defence and energy agreements

Argentine president Cristina Kirchner and Russian president Vladimir Putin sign agreements and voice support for each other over Falkland Islands and Ukraine disputes

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on Wednesday and Thursday at the Kremlin and signed numerous agreements between their two countries.

Kirchner thanked Russia “For the support it has historically provided on the Falkland Islands question,” on Thursday during the meeting with Putin.

The South Atlantic islands, referred to as Las Malvinas by Argentina, were the cause of a ten-week war between Britain and Argentina in 1982. They are now under British administration as an overseas territory.

“Russia supports Argentina’s striving for direct talks with Britain to achieve a prompt resolution to the Malvinas Islands dispute,” the Russian president said.

The island, with around 3,000 residents, voted in a referendum in 2013 to remain under British rule. Britain controls the islands’ defence and foreign policy, while the islands’ government administers the islands’ domestic affairs.

In response to Russia’s comments on the Falkland Islands dispute, Kirchner said her administration supported the UN 2202 resolution of February on the Ukraine question.

Kirchner said that both she and Putin agreed it was necessary to declare “The firmest condemnation of any kind of intervention by third countries in countries’ domestic affairs.”

Argentina has backed Russia over its role in the Ukraine conflict and Russia’s annexation of Crimea, while Russia has supported Argentina over the Falkland Islands dispute with the United Kingdom.

Russia’s relationship with Western Europe is fragile due to the conflict in Ukraine and it is looking to align itself with new allies beyond the continent.

Argentina is locked in a dispute with the United Kingdom over sovereignty of the Falklands islands and embroiled in a legal battle with an American hedge fund over unpaid debt.

Relations between the United Kingdom and Russia have worsened because of the Ukraine conflict and Russia’s military presence around British airspace.

In February this year, British Royal Air Force jets had to intercept Russian bombers near Southern England.

Over 20 agreements were signed between Argentina and Russia at the meeting Wednesday, including defence and energy deals.

“The new agreement on military collaboration and data protection will enable the considerable increase of practical cooperation in this field,” said the Russian leader.

Argentina’s YPF and Russia’s Gazprom signed a memorandum of cooperation for the joint exploration and development of shale gas in Nequen province, Argentina.

In recent years, oil and gas deposits were discovered near the Falkland Islands, which has reheated the debate over ownership of the territory.

Argentina launched a lawsuit in a court in Rio Grande against five companies drilling for oil and gas off the Falkland Islands.

The Argentine court could impose prison terms and steep fines, said Daniel Filmus - the Argentine government minister responsible for the islands - claiming “All exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons on the Argentine continental shelf without Argentine authorisation is illegal.”

“The Government of Argentina continues to ignore our inalienable right to determine our own future,” countered the Falkland Islands government, pointing out that “exploration drilling has been happening in Falkland Islands waters for years.”

Three of the five companies being sued are UK firms, and two are US firms.

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond called the prosecution by Argentina “An outrageous piece of bullying.”

TRTWorld and agencies