U.S. Foothold – Russian stance towards crisis in Venezuela

U.S. Foothold – Russian stance towards crisis in Venezuela

Written on 02/21/2019

There are two reasons why Venezuela’s controversial leader is not yet fighting a losing battle against the country’s opposition. First, Venezuela’s military has pledged its loyalty to the leader since the beginning of the crisis while other military branches declared to stand by the president. Secondly, the government in Caracas is in the hopes for getting support from the world’s top players–with Russia at the forefront–because Moscow’s assistance is essential to back the country’s armed forces.

  • The Kremlin is doing its utmost to prevent Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s administration from collapsing, which is because of Moscow’s desire to extend its zone of influence in the western hemisphere. If the regime falls, making Caracas reorient towards pro-American policy, Russia along with its allies will be doomed to bear great losses in Latin America. This was also due to the fact that Russia has heavily invested in the Venezuelan regime, for instance by securing stakes in the local oil sector.
  • However, the dramatically worsening economic situation in Venezuela increases the risk of Russian investments and loans in the local oil sector. Russian state-run giant Rosneft has granted credits worth a total of 6.5 billion dollars for Venezuela’s PDVSA oil firm, out of which the latter so far managed to pay off 3.4 billion dollars, mostly by shipping oil supplies. Moreover, PDVSA’s assets were in the pinnacle of Western creditors. Such an absolute breakdown of the Venezuelan economy, prompted by political transitions in Caracas, may even end up with losing billions of dollars invested by the Russians.
  • Venezuela’s domestic conflict constitutes for the Kremlin yet another area for rivalry against the United States. Russian officials have accused Washington of making several attempts to trigger a “colorful revolution”, a move that would ultimately make Venezuela America’s regional vassal. Facing such a situation, Russia is likely to take some steps that can be referred to as little rational, especially if compared to Beijing’s pragmatic approach.
  • Moscow provides Maduro’s regime with essential support via both diplomatic and informal channels, the latter of which seems best evidenced by facilitating all activities related to military counseling and trading gold reserves. If the fall of Maduro’s rule was just a foregone conclusion, the main goal is to prolong the regime’s agony while fuelling the political turmoil in Venezuela, all of which would ultimately lead to a destruction of the national oil sector. Further, it would be profitable to make its recovery process and export restoration last as long as possible.

Photo source: KREMLIN.RU

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