During our Christmas lull Russia is edging further into the Venezuelan crisis to boost Maduro.
As his country is imploding into an economic morass Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro has been desperate for outside support. In an effort to solidify his shaky leadership the despot has desired to forge an alliance with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and it is one Putin has been enthusiastically pursuing.
That Venezuela is an OPEC nation yet balanced on the precipice of economic disaster is a signifier of just how massive the failure of the Maduro regime has been. He has become weighed down by sanctions from the U.S. and other western nations, and his power is ebbing. Desperate to retain control and keep his military fluid enough to protect him from uprisings, Maduro has turned to bartering the country’s assets for cash.
Earlier this month the Russian Air Force executed a training mission from Moscow, involving refueling of Blackjack bombers and landing in Venezuela. It was an extension of a relationship between the two countries that is growing, both militarily and economically. As Venezuela’s currency has been reduced to near Zero Maduro seeks out alternate means of both funding and propping up his power. Russia is more than happy to help.
As laid out in The Washington Post Maduro has struck economic deals with Putin, giving the dictator needed liquidity while Russia makes some serious inroads in the oil-rich country. Following the G-20 Summit held in Argentina in November Maduro went to Russia for meetings with Putin. The two leaders worked out a deal rooted in mutual self-interests.
The result: Five billion dollars in pledges towards the corrupted Venezuelan oil production. Russia will then beneffit with additional exports to its crude customers. An additional billion dollars goes towards mining interests in the country. Another deal has 600,000 tons of Russian wheat exports to be delivered to the literally starving nation.
This new economic arrangement follows previous financial assistance that Russia provided that sees Putin holding a major stake in a US oil corporation. An earlier $1.5 billion infusion to Venezuela gave Russian oil giant Rosneft a 49% percent stake in Citgo. This leads to numerous entanglements, especially here in the States.
Trump has mentioned expanding sanctions on Venezuela, reaching into the oil industry. Even with the faltering oil export process the U.S. remains the largest importer of Venezuelan crude. New sanctions in that field could be felt by Citgo interests in the U.S. This leads to possibly shutting down refineries in the Gulf Coast region, and suspending gasoline deliveries to Citgo stations. That could develop into economic issues here, and lead to international entanglements with the involvement of Russia.
Imagine the media trying to disentangle those complications, while insisting that Trump is a puppet of Putin.