Ecuador has been facing a delicate situation in its relations with Russia after openly announcing its intention to send its Russian weapons, which were considered obsolete, to the United States in exchange for more modern military equipment. The government of President Daniel Noboa claims that the measure is a way of strengthening the country’s internal security. However, Russia has not been pleased with the decision and has accused Quito of violating contracts made at the time of purchasing these weapons and giving in to pressure from Washington.
The idea of getting rid of Russian weapons began in December 2023 when Noboa stated for the first time that he planned to exchange what he called “Ukrainian and Russian scrap” for $200 million in modern equipment from the US. The war artifacts that must be handed over to the US include helicopters, rocket launch systems, and anti-aircraft cannons, and according to the government, are no longer suitable for use.
Russia’s ambassador in Quito was the first to take a stand against sending Russian weapons to the United States, stating that such weapons may still be in good working order and that Ecuador could not transfer war material without Moscow’s consent. However, Russia decided to impose several measures against Ecuadorian banana imports as a measure of retaliation for Noboa’s decision to hand over the weapons.
The diplomatic tension caused by the arms exchange agreement between Ecuador and the USA appears to be generating negative commercial repercussions for the South American country. Russia currently represents around 20% of Ecuador’s export destination, and non-oil exports totaled around $841 million between January and November 2023. The situation is escalating and is causing a strain on Ecuador’s relationship with Russia.