Navy Ships Will Visit Nicaraguan Port

A Navy squadron will visit Nicaragua as a symbolic reward for an old ally as the Kremlin seeks to project its power into Latin America, the Navy said Thursday.

Nicaragua is the only country that has followed Russia in recognizing the independence of two separatist regions in Georgia after the Russian-Georgian war in August. Nicaragua was a close ally of Moscow in the 1980s under President Daniel Ortega, who returned to power in 2006.

Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said the destroyer Admiral Chabanenko and two support vessels will arrive Friday at the Nicaraguan port of Bluefields for a four-day visit.

The Kremlin has moved to rebuild old alliances with Cuba and Nicaragua and cultivate new friends such as Venezuela -- part of efforts to expand Russia's global clout and flex its muscles close to the United States.

The Admiral Chabanenko is part of a Russian squadron visiting Latin America in the first such deployment to the Western Hemisphere since the Cold War.

Dygalo said the Admiral Chabanenko was wrapping up its six-day call at a Panamanian naval base and was to sail back through the canal Thursday en route to Nicaragua.