Central American country's Congress approves six-month deployment of 230 Russian soldiers, who will hold exercises with Nicaraguan military in Pacific waters.
Nicaragua's Congress has renewed a decade-long decree allowing Russian forces to train in the Central American country, a decision criticised by the United States in light of Russia's assault on Ukraine.
Tuesday's decree allows 230 Russian soldiers to enter Nicaragua between July 1 and December 31 to patrol Pacific waters with the Nicaraguan Army.
President Daniel Ortega has backed Russian President Vladimir Putin in his attack on Ukraine and the decision was expected.
Since 2012, Nicaragua's unicameral Congress has biannually approved the entry of foreign military personnel, including Russians, into the country.
Russian state television had celebrated the decision earlier this month.
"We consider this a provocation by the Nicaraguan regime," Brian Nichols, who is in charge of western hemisphere affairs at the State Department, was quoted by DW-TV as saying at the Americas Summit last week.
Nicaragua's Congress also approved the entry of US, Mexican, Cuban, Venezuelan and other Central American military personnel, specifying that it is "for humanitarian purposes to carry out joint work with the Nicaraguan Army."
Several Nicaraguan officials on Tuesday rejected US warnings about allowing Russia to gain a foothold in the Americas.
Nicaragua's ambassador to Organization of the American States denounces his own government as “dictatorship” in dramatic break with administration of President Daniel Ortega pic.twitter.com/CYMpJtVZl1— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) March 24, 2022
Fresh US sanctions
On Monday, the US imposed fresh sanctions on Nicaraguan officials for the holding of "over 180 political prisoners, with many suffering from a lack of adequate food, proper medical care and even sunlight."
President Ortega is a former Marxist who ousted dictator Anastasio Somoza and fought off US-backed Contra fighters in a bloody war in the 1980s.
He returned to office in 2007 before he won another term last year.
US President Joe Biden refused to invite Ortega or the leftist leaders of Cuba and Venezuela to a Summit of the Americas last week.
At the summit, Secretary of State Antony Blinken questioned Ortega's bid to allow Russian troops into Nicaragua.
"Countries will make their sovereign decisions. However, the idea that Russia would be a good partner when it comes to law enforcement issues or when it comes to humanitarian assistance, shall we say, does not meet the credibility test," he said.