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Ecuador backtracks on sending arms to Ukraine after Russia banned imports of its bananas, flowers

Under pressure following Russian trade sanctions that targeted Ecuador’s banana and flower exports, Ecuador’s foreign minister announced the country no longer has plans to transfer Soviet-era equipment to Ukraine.
Workers from the Mundo Banana company in Ecuador. Illustrative image:
Ecuador backtracks on sending arms to Ukraine after Russia banned imports of its bananas, flowers

On 19 February, Ecuador’s foreign minister stated that the country has no plans to send Soviet-era weapons to Ukraine, following a dispute with Moscow over banana and flower exports sparked by the Ecuadorian president’s earlier vow to do so, AFP reports.

Ukraine and its allies search for Soviet-era weapons all around the world to backfill Ukraine’s depleting stockpiles, while Russia is using all means available to disrupt weapon supplies to Ukraine.

Last month, Ecuador’s President Daniel Noboa announced that his country had agreed to exchange Russian military equipment, which had become “scrap metal,” for new US weapons valued at around $200 million.

According to AFP, Ecuador planned to send six Soviet-era military helicopters, long-range rocket launchers, and air defense systems to the United States, which would then forward these weapons to Ukraine. In return, Ecuador would receive modern weapons.

The USA is set to provide Ecuador with an unspecified quantity of UH-60A/L Black Hawk helicopters as a replacement for the Mi-17 helicopters initially intended for transfer to Ukraine, according to defense sources.

Russia criticized Ecuador’s “reckless” decision and banned the import of some Ecuadoran bananas and flowers, citing pest detection.

Now, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Gabriela Sommerfeld said:

“Ecuador will not send any war material to a country involved in an international armed conflict.”

On 16 February, Ecuador’s Trade Minister Sonsoles Garcia announced on X/Twitter that the Russian embargo on five banana exporting companies had been lifted.

Ecuador is the world’s largest banana exporter, holding 29% of the world’s banana exports, and a leading exporter of flowers, particularly roses. According to Russian media, nine out of ten bananas imported by Russia are from Ecuador.

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