In late April Russia shipped the first 20 of 50 T-72B tanks ordered by Nicaragua—causing a Cold War Back to the Future moment for Latin America watchers.
The cost of the 50 tanks reportedly totals $80 million. That is $9 million more than Nicaragua’s total 2015 defense budget. The acquisition of tanks is particularly perplexing to many in the region since Nicaragua has relatively good relations with its neighbors, has a growing tourist industry, and can boast in recent years as being the safest country for foreign tourists in all of Central America. Additionally, the ruling Sandinista party (FSLN) does not face a serious a challenge in the pending November elections.
This puzzling move turns out to be one of several in recent years in which Russia has provided foreign assistance and weapons sales to their old allies in the ruling FSLN party under President Daniel Ortega.