Home Opinion Mexico’s Hosts Russian and Chinese Military Units in Independence Parade

Mexico’s Hosts Russian and Chinese Military Units in Independence Parade

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Kremlin.ru, via Wikimedia Commons

ANALYSIS – In the ‘what the h*ll are you thinking’ category – a contingent of Russian soldiers marched in the annual Mexican Independence Day parade over the weekend. 

Russian troops had participated before, but not since Moscow launched its war of aggression against Ukraine.

This year marked 213 years since the end of Spanish rule in Mexico. 

And even as deadly fentanyl precursor ingredients are entering Mexico, to then be made into the deadly drug and flood the U.S., a Communist Chinese military honor guard from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) also marched alongside Mexican troops.

The presence of the Russian troops drew criticism because of the Russia’s brutal invasion of its neighbor. Mexico, which has long harbored bitterness against the United States for intervening militarily in Mexico in the 1800s, has condemned Russia’s invasion but has adopted a policy of ‘neutrality’ and has refused to participate in sanctions.

Populist socialist Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known as AMLO) noted that a contingent from China also participated. “All the countries that Mexico has diplomatic relations with were invited,” he said.

AMLO admitted the issue had become “a scandal,” but blamed it on the news media being against him.

Ukraine’s Ambassador to Mexico, Oksana Dramaretska, posted online that “The civic-military parade in Mexico City was stained by the participation of a Russian regiment; the boots and hands of these war criminals are stained with blood.”

But this is only the latest Russian flirtation by AMLO.

As Arturo Sarukhan writes in his commentary for Brookings: “…it would seem that some in Mexico, unwittingly, or wittingly, seem intent on opening a ‘second front’ for Moscow from there.”

What’s behind all of this? Given that Mexico trades in two days with the United States what it trades in a whole year with Russia, ideology seems to be paramount. The traditional left in Mexico — and throughout Latin America in general — tend to support policies that push back against “Western imperialism” but is also skeptical of liberalism and what it perceives as its institutions and stakeholders, which — like many authoritarian regimes — it considers to be tools of Western values and hegemony. 

It should therefore come as no surprise that the Mexican left is inclined to swallow and regurgitate Russian disinformation and propaganda (“NATO aggression,” “denazification of Ukraine”), see sanctions as another form of “imperialism” and an attempt to corner Russia, and resort to RT and Sputnik as sources of valid information.

The Kremlin, creating a contrast with U.S. troops on Russia’s borders, has also asked frequently, if rhetorically, what if Russian troops were stationed across the border in Mexico?

Maybe this is one way for Moscow to make that point. But there is more to the story.

As ABC News reported:

Some members of López Obrador’s Morena party have publicly expressed affection for Russia even after the invasion, and López Obrador has frequently criticized the United States for sending arms to Ukraine.

López Obrador’s administration has continued to buy Russia’s Sputnik COVID vaccine and intends to use it as a booster shot later this year, along with Cuba’s Abdala vaccine.

Experts have questioned the use of those vaccines, along with Mexico’s own Patria vaccine, as a booster for new variants, because all of them were designed in 2020 to combat variants circulating at the time.

Mexico would rather buy old and likely ineffective vaccines from Russia, than be on better terms with the United States. Under AMLO Mexico is also a helpful tool for Moscow in other ways.

As Sarukhan wrote:

Viktor Koronelli, Russia’s ambassador to Mexico, who said during the recent launching of the Mexico-Russia friendship caucus that “Mexico will never join anti-Russian sanctions” and that “across the world, there are countries like China, like India, like Mexico, that will never say ‘Yes, Sir’ to Uncle Sam’s orders.”

Despite all this Russian bravado and bluster, I would be just as concerned, or more so, about the Chinese military presence in the parade.  As AMLO noted, a contingent from  China also participated, and no one complained about that.

But China’s influence in Mexico is likely far more significant than Russia’s, and far more threatening to the United States.

Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of Great America News Desk.

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