“We have reviewed military cooperation plans and endorsed an area for strong military cooperation between Russia and Venezuela to defend peace, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino has clear instructions on this matter. We will expand the program [of cooperation] with such military power as Russia,” Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro said during a press conference aired on February 16. “Russia is fully supported by Venezuela in the face of the threats from NATO and the Western world,” he added.
Maduro’s declaration came while a Russian delegation, including Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, visited Venezuela to discuss trade and economic and technical cooperation between the two countries. The Russian delegation included officials from the ministries of Finance and Energy; ministries of Economic Development, Industry and Trade, Agriculture, and others, reported Russian News Agency Tass.
According to Newsweek, after lengthy talks between Maduro’s administration and the Russian delegation, the two sides signed a series of strategic cooperation agreements spanning a number of key fields. “We have reviewed the map of world geopolitics, the state of Russia-Venezuela bilateral cooperation and we have addressed in detail each of the aspects of trade, energy, financial cooperation in the fields of health, culture, education, military,” Maduro said.
The visit of the Russian delegation to Caracas follows visits by senior Latin American leaders — including Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro — to Moscow, where they met Russian President Vladimir Putin, leading analysts to suggest Russia is courting the region, Reuters reported. After Venezuela, the Russian delegation continued its trip to communist-friendly Cuba and Nicaragua.
Russia has been one of Maduro’s main allies in the face of the international pressure led by the United States to try to displace him from power with a battery of sanctions. Weeks ago, with the tension already installed on the border with Ukraine, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said he could neither confirm nor deny the possibility of sending military assets to Venezuela and Cuba. The close relations between Moscow and Caracas date back to the era of late President Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), who bought weapons and military equipment from Russia for hundreds of millions of dollars in the midst of an oil bonanza.