Ecuador is facing a delicate situation in its relations with Russia after announcing its intention to send Russian weapons, 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, this decision did not please Moscow, which accused Quito of violating contracts made with Russia at the time of purchasing these weapons and of giving in to pressure from Washington.
In December 2023, Ecuador began considering getting rid of its Russian weapons. In January 2024, Noboa announced for the first time that he planned to exchange “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, according to the government. These weapons 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. The diplomatic tension caused by this arms exchange agreement between Ecuador and the USA appears to be generating negative commercial repercussions for the South American country. In response to Noboa’s decision to hand over the weapons, Russia decided to impose several measures against importing Ecuadorian bananas into its markets.
The Kremlin sees this as a measure of retaliation for Noboa’s decision to hand over Russian weapons. Representatives of Ecuadorian banana and flower exporters expressed their surprise and concern about Russia’s decision, confirming that their products currently comply with all quality standards required by destination markets. Between January and November 2023, revenue generated by banana exports from Ecuador reached $3.2 billion, including $690 million from shipments made to Russian markets alone. This represents around 20% of Ecuador’s export destination market share and around $841 million worth of non-oil exports between January and November 2023. As tensions continue escalate between these two countries, it is clear that their relationship is becoming increasingly strained