Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has formally recognised the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.
He told Dmitry Medvedev near Moscow that Venezuela would begin setting up diplomatic relations soon. The Russian president expressed his gratitude for the decision, which is a rare boost for the Kremlin’s campaign to have the two rebel areas accepted internationally. But it is an uphill struggle. Russia recognised their independence after stepping in to repel Georgian troops from South Ossetia in last summer’s war. Then Nicaragua recognised them and now Venezuela. But the rest of the world still sees the regions as part of Georgia. According to Russian media reports the Chavez trip also includes talks on giving Moscow the right to exploit some of his country’s rich oil reserves in exchange for the latest Russian military hardware including tanks, helicopters, anti-missile systems and armoured personnel carriers.