Russia strengthened its support for Nicolás Maduro by signing a dozen cooperation agreements on food, finance, energy, military, science, technology, and mining, on March 30, 2021. It also renewed its commitment to support the South American country in health matters, which would include increasing the supply of vaccines to combat the novel coronavirus.
Russia, together with China, is an unconditional partner of the Venezuelan government amid the economic crisis that is hitting the country, in addition to the U.S. sanctions that seek to prevent the Maduro government from conducting financial and commercial transactions abroad, accessing Venezuela’s international assets, and carrying out operations with oil, gold, and other resources.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov and Venezuelan Sectorial Vice President of the Economic Area and Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami signed the agreements.
The agreements “show the vitality of comprehensive relations” between the two countries, Maduro said at the end of the Russia-Venezuela High Level Intergovernmental Commission meeting at the government palace in Caracas.
Although authorities didn’t provide details about most of the agreements signed, Maduro welcomed “Russia’s commitment to increase the supply of the Sputnik V vaccine.”
Venezuela, with about 30 million inhabitants, has been part of the Sputnik V vaccine trials since October.
Previously, Borisov said that Russia will “guarantee” the vaccination of Venezuelans and will do “everything possible” to increase supplies of the Sputnik V vaccine, without giving any further details.
In December, the Maduro administration signed a contract with Moscow for the supply of vaccines, and the first shipment of 100,000 doses arrived on February 13. Since then, 250,000 of the 10 million vaccine doses initially agreed upon have arrived. Maduro has said that his government invested $200 million in these vaccines, and weeks ago said that they should be in the country by April, when he hopes that Venezuela will be in a position to deploy a massive vaccination campaign.
On March 1, Venezuela also received a shipment of 500,000 doses from the Chinese state-run company Sinopharm, which the Asian country donated. It is not known if a supply agreement exists between Caracas and Beijing.
In Venezuela, where the coronavirus has not hit as hard as in other South American countries, there are more than 159,100 positive cases and 1,583 deaths.