In 2023, Ecuador announced its intention to send its Russian weapons, considered obsolete, to the United States in exchange for more modern military equipment. The government of President Daniel Noboa claims that the measure is a way of strengthening the country’s internal security. However, Russia did not take kindly to this move and accused Quito of violating contracts made with Moscow at the time of purchasing these weapons and giving in to pressure from Washington.
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.
The diplomatic tension caused by this arms exchange agreement between Ecuador and the USA seems to have had negative commercial repercussions for South America. In response, Russia imposed several measures against Ecuadorian banana imports, which the Ecuadorian government sees as a measure of retaliation for Noboa’s decision to hand over the weapons.
This decision has caused outrage among 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 from banana exports from Ecuador reached $3.2 billion, with $690 million coming from shipments made to Russian markets alone. This accounts for around 20% of Ecuador’s export destination and around $841 million in non-oil exports between January and November 2023.
As tensions continue to escalate between Ecuador and Russia over this issue, it remains unclear what impact it will have on their relationship moving forward.