MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia is seeking to expand ties with Latin American nations amid tensions with the West over Ukraine.
President Vladimir Putin held a meeting Thursday of the nation's top defense and security officials to discuss Ukraine and ways to develop ties with Latin American countries.
Russian navy ships and long-range bombers already have visited Venezuela and Cuba as part of Putin's efforts to show Russia's global reach.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has said the military plans to expand its worldwide presence by seeking permission for navy ships to use ports in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere. He mentioned Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba, among others.
Shoigu also said Russia was talking to some of those countries about allowing its long-range bombers to use their bases for refueling.