The relationship between Ecuador and Russia has become tense after the government announced its intention to send its Russian weapons, deemed obsolete, to the United States in exchange for more modern military equipment. The decision was made by President Daniel Noboa in an effort to strengthen the country’s internal security. However, Russia did not approve of this move and accused Quito of violating contracts made with Moscow during the purchase of these weapons and succumbing to pressure from Washington.
Ecuador’s plan to get rid of its Russian weapons began in December 2023, with Noboa stating publicly that he intended 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, according to the government, which claims they are no longer suitable for use.
Russia’s ambassador in Quito was the first to speak out 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. This diplomatic tension has resulted in negative commercial repercussions for Ecuador. The Kremlin decided to impose several measures against the import of Ecuadorian bananas, which the Ecuadorian government sees as a measure of retaliation for Noboa’s decision to hand over the weapons.
Representatives of Ecuadorian banana and flower exporters expressed their surprise and concern about Russia’s decision, confirming that their products 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, with $690 million coming from shipments made to Russian markets. Russia currently accounts for around 20% of Ecuador’s export destination, with non-oil exports totaling around $841 million between January and November 2023. As tensions escalate between these two countries, it remains uncertain how long this strain will last or what impact it will have on their relationship moving forward.