Russia condemns Ecuador's military modernization contract with the US for potentially aiding Ukraine
The Government of Ecuador has confirmed that it will take up an offer from Washington, in which the US has pledged to replace Ecuador's outdated military equipment with modern American equipment valued at $200 million. It has been agreed between the two nations that the US will have the rights to the old equipment received from Ecuador and will forward it to Ukraine.
Why Russia is upset with Ecuador's military ties to the US
"Ecuador has taken this careless decision under considerable external stress. Our allies are fully aware of agreement terms that mandate the use of the delivered equipment for stated purposes only and prohibit its transfer to third parties without obtaining the relevant consent from the Russian Federation," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated, as quoted by Reuters.
In an interview with Ecuavisa, President Daniel Noboa dismissed Russia's claims as unfounded. Ecuador is fully aware of the agreements' terms and has notified all relevant parties that the intended transfer to the US and Ukraine merely involves 'scrap,' not functional military equipment. No existing agreements forbid this action.
Many South American countries strive to stay uninvolved in the war in Ukraine, preferring not to risk jeopardizing their beneficial relations with Russia. This mindset was particularly noticeable in Brazil last year. Most of the Ecuadorian army's equipment comprises Russian/Soviet-made weapons. Although official discourse involves transferring decommissioned remnants to the US, Ukraine's support may be significant. Some of the equipment may not be in complete working condition but will likely have been thoroughly examined by US experts and deemed repairable.
Which weapons from Ecuador could end up in Ukraine?
The US is set to acquire various items such as RPG-7s, MANPADS (man-portable air defense systems), heavier ZPU and ZU-23-2 air defense systems, and self-propelled Osa air defense missile systems. Despite their age, these systems remain dangerous weapons that can engage targets from up to 9.3 miles away, depending on the model. Their in-built radar capabilities allow for target detection from about 18.64 miles.
The agreement is also expected to include BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launchers, commonly used in Ukraine, especially by Russian forces. These launchers use 122 mm caliber rockets capable of bombarding targets over 13 miles away. They can also unleash a 40-rocket volley in just 20 seconds. The associated engine allows this nearly 15.4-ton equipment to reach speeds of roughly 46.6 mph.
Ecuador's arsenal also includes Soviet-origin helicopters such as the Mi-17 and the Mi-171E, which have been mentioned as part of the arrangement with the US. Ukrainians are familiar with these aircraft as they feature in their inventory. The Mi-17 is more prevalent, capable of hauling up to 9920 lbs of cargo or accommodating up to 36 fully armed soldiers. These choppers can reach up to 155 mph and carry weapon payloads of up to 3300 lbs.