Quite often, Argentines are said to be too self-centred and always ready to be convinced that whenever anything happens in the world, it must have some kind of link to Argentina. This writer believes that — perhaps in most occasions — it is a fair assessment. But, at the same time, in view of some of last week’s news, a look at the links that associate President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Pope Francis and Vladimir Putin might show some unexpected developments. There are several facts as well as some indicators, which stem from educated speculation, that seem to underpin this view.
Some facts: Russia and Argentina have publicly announced their strategic alliance. The alliance encompasses technological cooperation in areas like the generation of nuclear power that is needed by Argentina. Argentina in turn provides food exports to Russia that are quite important at a time when the EU and the US are sanctioning Moscow because of Ukraine, especially since there seem to be plans to extend the enforcement of these sanctions. Also, in political terms, Argentina supports Russia’s position in its conflict with Ukraine. And Moscow reciprocates by supporting Argentina’s sovereignty claim over the South Atlantic Islands. The alliance also implies a shared and critical view of the United States and of some its important EU partners.
It is also a fact that, when Jorge Bergoglio became Pope Francis, the Argentine president was quick to send friendly signals to Rome, putting an end to the several years of confrontation between the Kirchners and Bergoglio. These signals were acknowledged and reciprocated in terms of offering quick and quite frequent access to the Vatican, not only for Cristina, but also for several members of her inner circle.
Pope Francis has also made friendly gestures toward Putin. He has not condemned Russia’s policy on Ukraine, limiting his messages to a call for peace, asking Christians not to kill each other. And this message had some clearly identified addressees, including the Russian Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic Churches — permanently at loggerheads with each other.