Russia will deliver 50 new T-72B1 battle tanks to Nicaragua this year, in a deal worth some US $80 million, according to Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency and Nicaraguan media.

The first batch of 20 tanks is ready for shipment, and the remaining 30 are to be delivered by the end of the year or early 2017, according to the report.

The armaments add to a string of military hardware acquired by Nicaragua from Russia in recent years, including 12 anti-aircraft autocannons in 2013, a batch of GAZ-2330 Tiger armored infantry vehicles in 2012, and two Mi-17V-5 helicopters in 2009.

Sputnik also reported that Russia and Nicaragua were moving forward with a plan to supply the Nicaraguan Navy with two modern Molnia-class missile ships at a cost of US $45 million each.

Nicaragua’s intentions to obtain at least a dozen Russian Yak-130 fighter jets and MIG-29 fighter-bombers were also revealed last year. MIG-29’s come with a price tag of about US $29 million each, according to defense experts.

Context for Costa Rican angst -

The San Juan River, as it flows in Central America, demarcates a border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. This border has been a source of contention between the two states for years. The situation around the border issue is already tense for both governments as an issue of national pride. Armed forces have been mobilized on both sides of the border in recent years yet have avoided armed conflict, redirecting new attention to an old dispute. Added stresses caused by climate change, such as exteme droughts which could cause water scarcity in the San Juan River Basin, only exacerbate the problem. With such competition for available water resources, these two governments may decide that armed conflict is worth the risk.