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The delicate situation between Ecuador and Russia has escalated after the government of President Daniel Noboa announced its intention to exchange obsolete Russian weapons for more modern military equipment from the United States. While the Kremlin has accused Quito of violating contracts and giving in to pressure from Washington, Ecuador claims that the move is necessary for strengthening its internal security.

In December 2023, Ecuador began considering getting rid of its Russian weapons, with President Noboa stating in January that he planned to exchange what he called “Ukrainian and Russian scrap” for $200 million in modern equipment from the US. The war artifacts to be handed over include helicopters, rocket launch systems, and anti-aircraft cannons, which are no longer suitable for use according to the government.

Russia’s ambassador in Quito was the first to take a stand against sending Russian weapons to the United States, arguing that such weapons may still be in good working order and that Ecuador could not transfer war material without Moscow’s consent. However, Russia’s decision to impose measures against the import of Ecuadorian bananas appears to be retaliation for Noboa’s decision to hand over the weapons.

The diplomatic tension caused by the arms exchange agreement is generating negative commercial repercussions for Ecuador. The Kremlin decided to impose several measures against the import of Ecuadorian bananas, which has surprised and concerned representatives of Ecuadorian banana and flower exporters who confirm 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 alone. Russia currently represents around 20% of Ecuador’s export destination, and non-oil exports totaled around $841 million between January and November 2023.

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