On Tuesday, March 24, Prime Minister David Cameron told the House of Commons that the UK "will always defend" the Falkland Islands. Defense Minister Michael Fallon announced that two Chinook helicopters will be used in the islands from next year, given that Argentina is still "a threat" for the archipelago.
The United Kingdom, added Fallon, plans to spend 180 million pounds in the next ten years to improve the defenses of the South Atlantic archipelago.
The statements - which are now on the front pages of all Argentinian newspapers - mark a new increase in tensions with the South American country. The Falkland Islands, about 450 kilometers off the coast of Patagonia was the scene of a brief war in 1982, after the occupation of the islands by the Argentinian armed forces.
Despite the rapid #Military
defeat, the Falklands were a very salient issue in Argentina, where they are called Islas Malvinas. Argentina claims sovereignty over the islands, which are under the control of the United Kingdom since the '30 of the 19th
century. Much of the population is descendant of British settlers and London has always maintained that the final decision on the country's sovereignty is up to the UK.
In recent years, some referendum gave an overwhelming majority to remaining under British sovereignty: in the last one, in 2013, 1513 inhabitants voted in favor of the UK compared to three in favor of Argentina (the turnout was over 90 percent). Last year, the UK has refused negotiations with the South American country on the fate of the islands.
In late December 2014, the British newspaper Sunday Express reported that, after Putin's visit to Buenos Aires in July, Argentina was close to an agreement with Russia for 12 Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer bombers in exchange for food (meat and wheat).
As reported a few weeks ago, the Argentine newspaper Clarín, Buenos Aires is seeking military agreements with China, which President Cristina Fernández visited in February. Argentina has been looking for years, substitutes for antiquated aircraft of its air force and has turned to other countries. But so far the possible agreements with Israel, Spain or China have always failed for economic or political reasons.
The Argentine authorities reacted immediately to the British announcement, saying that the European country is hiding behind "an alleged threat from Argentina" to increase military spending and the militarization of the islands. Argentine Defense Minister Agustín Rossi has defined "crazy" the idea, reported by some British newspapers such as the Sun tabloid, that Argentina has planned a new invasion of the islands. Both the minister that the government, in a statement, said that the solution to the dispute must be peaceful and move from diplomacy.