[Marxism] Chavez: we need Russia

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jul 22 07:14:38 MDT 2008

 From the Los Angeles Times
Chavez says Venezuela needs Russia for protection
 From the Associated Press

4:21 AM PDT, July 22, 2008

MOSCOW — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called on Tuesday for a 
strategic alliance with Russia to protect the South American country 
from the United States.

Chavez is expected to reach a number of agreements for purchasing 
military hardware while in Moscow, according to news media reports. One 
newspaper reported that the deals could be worth up to $2 billion.

"That way we can guarantee Venezuela's sovereignty, which is now 
threatened by the United States," Chavez was quoted by Russian news 
agencies as saying.

Chavez was scheduled for his first meeting with Dmitry Medvedev since he 
became Russia's president in May. He also will meet with Prime Minister 
Vladimir Putin and Russian military and business leaders, Chavez 
spokesman Tomas Ramirez said.

Russia's daily Kommersant reported Tuesday that Chavez is looking to 
order up to $2 billion worth of Ilyushin jets, diesel-powered 
submarines, TOR-M1 air defense systems and possibly tanks.

Rosoboronexport, Russia's state-owned arms trader, declined to comment 
on potential deals.

"We want peace, but we are forced to strengthen our defense," Chavez 
said when asked about the potential deals.

Venezuela, which spent $4 billion on international arms purchases 
between 2005 and 2007, mostly from Russia and China, has a defense 
budget of $2.6 billion, according to the London-based International 
Institute for Strategic Studies.

The U.S. stopped supplying arms to Venezuela in 2006.

Chavez also wants to discuss the possibility of creating a joint bank 
and investment vehicle with Russia, the ITAR-Tass agency reported.

The two sides are also expected to discuss energy deals, Venezuela's 
state agency reported, including expanding activities of Russia's Lukoil 
with Venezuela's state-run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

Lukoil is already helping Venezuela quantify heavy crude oil deposits in 
its Orinoco River basin -- one of the world's largest petroleum 
deposits. Russia's Gazprom has two natural gas exploration and 
production licenses in Venezuela.

Commercial trade between Venezuela and Russia reached $1.1 billion last 
year, up more than 200% from the $517 million in trade during 2006, 
according to statistics cited by Venezuela's state-run news agency.

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