Argentina’s new Ambassador to Russia, Eduardo Zuain, says the government is keen to deepen closer ties with Moscow, eyeing an improvement in “strategic coordination” beyond the Sputnik V vaccine.
Zuain, a former deputy foreign minister during Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s second presidential term, was confirmed at the start of the week as envoy to Moscow by Decree 51/21 in the Official Gazette.
The 58-year-old described his diplomatic mission as "developing an agenda of strategic cooperation with the prime objective of guaranteeing the supply of the vaccine" against coronavirus. He also said talks would take place over the potential production of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in Argentina via technology transfer.
However, in an interview with state news agency Télam, Zuain defined Russia as "a centre of strategic power beyond the issue of vaccine" – a reference to the strategic association agreement signed by Argentina and Russia in 2015 when he was deputy foreign minister.
As part of a broad agenda on the economic, political, scientific and technological fronts, Zuain named another of his objectives as increasing exports to Russia, which he observed currently amount to around US$650 million, as against imports of US$250 million.
"That reveals we have great potential to place more Argentine products on the Russian market while analysing and exploring all channels of technological transfer," he indicated.
As for the vaccine and the timetable for its arrival in Argentina – a sensitive question due to the huge world demand and the recent appearance of other countries interested in Sputnik V like Mexico and potentially Germany – Zuain pointed out that "our efforts are centred on guaranteeing the continuity of supply, bearing in mind how much it takes to produce it, seeking as many doses as possible in the shortest time possible."
The new ambassador also anticipated a probable visit by President Alberto Fernández to the Russian Federation in the near future. "He has an invitation to go to Russia and we’re already working on that visit, which will depend on his agenda and that of President Vladimir Putin," he said.
Notably describing himself as "honoured by the responsibility given me by the president and vice-president," Zuain defined the foreign policy of the Alberto Fernández administration as "based on the national interest and in improving the living conditions of Argentines, on the understanding that we live in a multipolar world."
Zuain replaces the original presidential appointment of Alicia Castro (who previously served as ambassador in Caracas and London), who was unable to travel to Moscow due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Castro subsequently stepped down from the post last October without having been confirmed after clashing with Foreign Ministry policies towards Venezuela.