Caracas, February 17, 2022 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela has strengthened bilateral ties with Russia following a visit by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov this week.
Caracas and Moscow signed a statement of intent towards deepening cooperation during a new session of the High-Level Intergovernmental Commission (CIAN), which has met regularly in recent years.
Venezuelan Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami stated that Borisov’s visit was meant to follow up on more than 20 agreements between the two countries in different areas.
“We have gone over the deals with the Russian Federation in several areas, energy chief among them,” El Aissami told reporters on Wednesday. “This meeting has allowed us to widen the horizon of our cooperation.” He went on to praise the countries’ joint work in stabilizing the global oil market.
The Russian delegation, which includes officials from several ministries, sat down with Venezuelan counterparts on Tuesday and Wednesday to evaluate ongoing collaboration in areas such as agriculture, industry and trade. The Russian team will visit Nicaragua and Cuba in the coming days.
“CIAN is a key instrument for our cooperation and we look forward to new joint accords,” the Russian official said in a press conference. He added that Russia-Venezuela trade had grown by 50 percent in the past year.
Russia has been a key Venezuelan ally amidst growing US-led efforts to isolate the South American country. Apart from joint ventures, the Russian government has extended credit lines while also lending diplomatic support and endorsing dialogue efforts with the Venezuelan opposition.
On Wednesday evening, Borisov joined Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro at Miraflores Palace for a televised meeting.
Maduro began by highlighting Russian assistance in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. Caracas purchased a reported 10 million Sputnik V vaccine doses and a further seven million Sputnik Light ones to be used as booster shots.
However, the Venezuelan mandatary soon turned his attention to defense matters, praising a “powerful” military cooperation with Moscow.
“We have reiterated our powerful military cooperation in defense of peace, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Maduro said, adding that Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López had “clear instructions” to strengthen ties with Russia. The two allies have worked together extensively on defense in recent years, with Moscow being one of the main equipment suppliers for the Venezuelan armed forces.
President Maduro went on to reiterate Caracas’ backing for its Eurasian ally in the context of ongoing tensions with Ukraine and NATO.
“Russia can count on the full support from Venezuela in the face of the threats from NATO and western countries,” the Venezuelan leader affirmed. Last month, he expressed a similar position in a phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
For weeks, Russia’s western border with Ukraine has seen a military buildup and forced diplomatic summits as Moscow expresses its opposition to further eastward NATO expansion.
The tensions spilled over to Russia’s allies in Latin America when Foreign Vice-Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters that his country “did not rule out” sending troops to Cuba and Venezuela if the situation in Ukraine continued to escalate.
The statement saw the Venezuelan hardline opposition, including self-proclaimed “Interim President” Juan Guaidó, and US officials express outrage over purported Russian “intervention.”
Defense Minister Padrino López clarified that the declarations would only mean deepening an already existing military cooperation, while also taking aim at the “unpatriotic opposition talking about sovereignty after calling for a foreign intervention.”