Nicaragua on Tuesday shrugged off the idea of Russia building a military resupply base in the Central American nation after a suggestion last week by the Russian defense chief.
In Ukraine, pro-Kremlin forces are in de facto control of the strategic, majority-Russian Crimean peninsula, where Ukrainian troops remain blocked inside their barracks in the most serious stand-off between the West and Russia since the end of the Cold War.
Crimea is a top strategic interest for Russia since it hosts Moscow's only warm-water port open year round.
On February, 26 Russian defense chief Sergei Shoigu told RIA Novosti that Russia was weighing increasing its military presence in countries including Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela — particularly bases to refuel Russian warplanes far from home.
But Army Chief General Julio Aviles said in Managua this was just "speculation. And people speculate quite a bit." Aviles stressed that Nicaragua's constitution only allows for other countries' militaries and materiel to transit the country for humanitarian or training purposes — and only then, with the permission of lawmakers and the government.
All three of the countries Shoigu mentioned are leftist allies and harsh critics of the United States.