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Soviet Military Aid to Nicaragua Up Dramatically, U.S. Says

March 23, 1985|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Soviet Union has sought to exploit the recent turmoil in Central America and the Caribbean by giving Nicaragua 20 times more military aid last year than in 1981, a new Reagan Administration report says.

Soviet military shipments to Cuba and Nicaragua since 1979 have exceeded what the United States has sent to the rest of Latin America, the report said.

Most of the Soviet aid has been a continuance of its longtime and massive support for Cuba, which, according to the study by the State and Defense departments, received shipments totaling 245,000 tons between 1981 and 1984. Soviet military deliveries to Nicaragua, meanwhile, reached 18,000 tons last year, the report said.

Included in the deliveries to Nicaragua, the report said, were high-performance helicopters capable of penetrating the airspace of Nicaragua's three closest neighbors and other equipment required for an "offensive-minded army." The report referred to six MI-24 attack helicopters that U.S. officials have previously called an effective counterinsurgency weapon that Nicaragua's Sandinista regime may have acquired exclusively for defensive purposes.

Threat to Region

Entitled "The Soviet-Cuban Connection in Central America and the Caribbean," the report represented an additional Administration effort to underscore what it regards as the growing Marxist threat to the region.

The report, formally released Friday by the State Department, is largely a compilation of information previously disclosed.

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