Venezuela, Relations with
- Historically, bilateral ties between Moscow and Caracas have been weak to nonexistent; however, beginning in 1999 with the election of Hugo Chavez, a populist, left-leaning president, the two countries have drawn closer. Chavez quickly replaced Fidel Castro as the leading voice of anti-Americanism in Latin America, courting leaders from Iran and Iraq, much to the dismay of Washington. In the wake of the United States–led invasion of Iraq and U.S.-supported color revolutions in Russia’s near abroad, Vladimir Putin began to court closer ties to the Chavez government, hoping to facilitate the emergence of multipolarity in world politics as well as to expand Russia’s flagging international arms sales. Russian exports to Venezuela, nominal until 2004, have increased dramatically with the new relationship, totaling over $1 billion in 2007. The bulk of this trade has been in arms, particularly submarines, helicopters, late-model Kalashnikovs, and antiaircraft missile systems; total arms sales now exceed $4.4 billion.At a presidential summit between Dmitry Medvyedev and Chavez in mid-2008, the two countries agreed to coordinate energy policies, particularly with respect to oil and natural gas; a deal on nuclear energy has also been signed. Russian corporations such as Lukoil and Gazprom have benefited from Chavez’s “Bolivarian revolution,” which has displaced British and American transnationals from much of his country’s economy. The two states have also increased military and naval cooperation in recent years, which is seen as a signal regarding Russia’s intent to increase influence in Latin America at the expense of Washington. On 10 September 2009, Venezuela recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a move welcomed in Moscow.
Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. Robert A. Saunders and Vlad Strukov. 2010.
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