Nicaraguan Military to Get Upgrade

MANAGUA, Nicaragua -- Russia's ambassador to Managua said his country will replace the Nicaraguan army's aging weaponry.

Russian Ambassador Igor Kondrashev said there are no plans, however, to expand the Central American country's military arsenal.

Nicaragua acquired most of its arms and military equipment from the former Soviet Union in the 1980s, when the leftist Sandinista government was fighting U.S.-backed rebels. The army has insisted that it needs new helicopters and Navy ships to patrol Caribbean waters, where there is a boundary dispute with Colombia.

Kondrashev made the comments in an interview Wednesday with Canal 8 television, but he did not say if Russia would ask for financial compensation or would simply replace the equipment as a gift to Nicaragua -- which was one of the first nations to support Russia in its war against Georgia.

Kondrashev applauded President Daniel Ortega's government for formally recognizing the independence of Georgia's breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on Sept. 5.