Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu will meet with Brazilian officials Wednesday. (Alexei Nikolsky / AFP)
BRASILIA, BRAZIL — Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu will meet with Brazilian officials Wednesday following Brasilia’s decision to buy surface-to-air missile batteries from Moscow, the two sides said Tuesday.
The visit, a day after Shoigu was to hold top level meetings in nearby Peru, comes as Moscow has raised its profile throughout Latin America in recent years with strengthened military and trade ties.
Shoigu’s stop in Brazil also comes as President Dilma Rousseff is pressing for the release of a Brazilian biologist detained in Russia along with 29 other Greenpeace activists after protesting Arctic oil drilling.
Last February, Brazil agreed to open talks with Moscow on buying surface-to-air missile batteries during a visit in the Latin American country by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Last December, Brasilia also bought 12 Russian helicopters.
Meanwhile Rousseff last week directed her foreign minister to make high-level contact with Moscow to find a solution for Brazilian Greenpeace activist Ana Paula Maciel.
Maciel was one of 30 activists from 18 countries arrested by Russia in late September and charged with piracy after authorities said they had found “narcotic substances” on the Dutch-flagged Arctic Sunrise, used in their protest.
Greenpeace has denied the allegation as a “smear,” and the arrests have raised international protests.
Putin has said that the activists “of course are not pirates,” but his spokesman Dmitry Peskov later said the Kremlin strongman had expressed his personal opinion.
Brazil and Russia are both members of the BRICS group of emerging powers along with China, India and South Africa.
The BRICs five are to hold their next summit in Brazil next March.
In Peru Tuesday, Shoigu was to meet with President Ollanta Humala, as well as with his counterpart Pedro Cateriano, and to sign agreements on military and education cooperation at the army headquarters.