The Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has welcomed closer ties with the socialist Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. Chavez was in Moscow to sign energy deals, bringing together two of the world’s key oil producers, and rivals of the United States.
The agreements allow the Russians to develop new deposits in Venezuela, opening the way for major engineering projects.
Chavez spoke of their “strategic partnership” in fields including energy, finance, science and the military.
He said: “Russia has sufficient capacity to ensure its presence in various parts of the world. Their ships might show up in Asian, African or Caribbean waters. I will not be surprised. If Russia’s armed forces want to be present in Venezuela, they will be given a warm welcome.”
It was an implicit slap for the United States, which has traditionally considered Latin America to be its zone of influence.
One political analyst, Viktor Linnik said: “I think tit-for-tat is taking place in this case. You know very well that the United States is very active in the territories of the former Soviet Union, in some of the territories particularly like Georgia and Ukraine, so it’s only natural that Russia will reciprocate and be more active in Latin America.”
President Chavez also took a shopping list on his Moscow trip, looking to boost his country’s defences with fighter jets, diesel-powered submarines, and missile systems worth a reported one-and-a-quarter billion euros.