Interesting blurb from Reuters this morning. See below:

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By Katya Golubkova

ST.PETERSBURG (Reuters) – Russia and Venezuela on Saturday moved closer to an oil venture deal and discussed arms trade, forging a partnership that may drag Russia into a row over the U.S. military presence in Colombia.

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, due in Russia in September, said last week he was prepared to buy dozens of Russian tanks to counter the U.S. intention to increase a military presence in Colombia.

“The president of Venezuela is one of the leading international policy makers. He is a very strong personality and a big friend of Russia,” said Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin.

“I know from experience if he said something he will definitely do it,” Sechin told a news conference after talks with Venezuelan Vice President Ramon Carrizalez when asked whether Russia would sell tanks to Venezuela.

Sechin said military cooperation with Venezuela will help Russia’s struggling military industrial complex cope with the economic crisis but declined to comment further on the tank deal saying it was for presidents to work it out.

ARMS PURCHASES

Colombia’s government is expected to sign a deal this month giving U.S. forces increased access to military bases in order to fight the cocaine trade and Marxist insurgents. Chavez has blasted the plan as a threat to regional stability.

“We as a sovereign state must protect our people and in that sense we can make arms purchases that we deem necessary,” Carrizalez said. “These bases without doubt create a threat for all Latin American countries.

Russia, the world’s second largest oil exporter, wants to revive Latin American ties cultivated during the Soviet era. Sechin’s recent Latin American tour included traditional Soviet allies Cuba and Nicaragua.

Russia and Venezuela are expected next month to present a joint venture that aims to develop the Junin 6 block in the Orinoco oil belt, which Venezuela says has the world’s largest hydrocarbon reserves.

Sechin said Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA and a consortium of Russian firms will need to jointly invest $30 billion in Venezuela’s Junin 6 oil field.

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We would do well to remember Putin’s vow to restore to Russia the place which the Soviet Union once occupied at the international table. Also interesting is the phrasing of describing Cuba and Venezuela as Russia’s “traditional” allies in Latin America. Traditional? Only at the height of the Cold War, as a significant thorn in the side of the US and her ability to protect her shores and/or come to the aid of her allies in Europe. What we are witnessing is a 21st Century revival of the Soviyetski Soyuz that once allowed the USSR to hold sway in so many key areas around the globe.

It is also important to remember that the Russians never put their money into a region where their military capability doesn’t soon follow. The stated intention of expanding the Russian Navy comes at a time when it is clear to our allies and potential opponents alike that the US Navy is shrinking. With China’s push for regional dominance, Russia undoubtedly sees an opportunity to accomplish several things at once in Latin America.

1. Continue to support two enemies of the US, (Cuba, Venezuela) bolstering with military and economic aid.

2. Establish themselves with a presence that sits astride a critical SLOC for the US, with the ability to interdict, or at least influence, greatly enhanced over attempting the same from bases in the Baltic or Black Sea.

3. Secure a significant source of the world’s crude oil, a situation that could have devastating impact on key US allies, and by proxy, the US.

Russia’s capabilities are growing, and Putin’s statement of her intent is clear to those who care to see. We would be wise to ensure we have a US Navy able to counter this potential threat to our hemisphere and to our abilities to defend our key allies and vital interests in and across the Atlantic.

Otherwise, an increasingly popular bumper sticker might read; “Got Ships?”




Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Foreign Policy, Maritime Security, Navy, Uncategorized


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  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Invite them to NYC next year for fleet week.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Methinks the Russians attend every year…

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Not the submarines I think.

  • Derrick

    There will always be challengers to the USA’s naval superiority. The US only need do 2 things in this regard:
    1) Work the diplomatic channels to better understand Russia’s military commitment to this area, and find areas where the Russian and US military could cooperate.
    2) Make a budget request to increase the US naval presence in Latin America. Perhaps 11 carrier strike forces is not enough for the US navy to do its job?

  • Cap’n Bill

    Seems clear to me that the entire military/diplomatic area of U S activity in South and Central America and contiguous waters requires considerably more attention. In recent times CINCSOUTH has been the tip of the spear in Latin America. Left to be done is the identification of individual area/country problems and an effort to solve them through consistent focused diplomatic work. We need more than the “war on drugs” activity. Do this with the expectation of devising a mutually designed good business/international trade model for the area. It seems fair to say that the U S State Department has been a weak sister in such efforts.

  • CINCLAX

    Cap’n Bill is right on the money. In general, our State Department has been asleep at the switch for decades in Latin America, Left wing populism has been an ongoing problem for American interests since the days of Juan Peron; now we have the likes of Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales to deal with, and the Sandanistas are back in business in Nicaragua.

    Up to 1999, Venezuela was the most reliable source of foreign oil for America. It broke with OPEC, for example, and agreed to increase production to compensate for the shortages created by the Arab oil embargo of 1973. But since taking office in 1999, Hugo Chavez turned things completely around and drove his oil to record high prices while buying political “protection” from people like Citizens Energy in Boston. Google that one if you want an eyeful.

    For a while I thought that things might be turning around when the U.S. alliance with Colombia against the FARC was going so well. Now we have the disgraceful slapdown of Honduran efforts to (constitutionally) rid themselves of a potential Chavez. Thanks, State Department!

    Cap’n Bill, Latin America IS getting attention, only it’s not the right kind of attention.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Derrick,

    It would seem your idea of trying to glean intent and find areas for cooperation is a tad naive. We must prepare for their capabilities, not intent. The Russians are extremely good at masking intent until a coup de grace has been accomplished.

    As for cooperation, I would wager they have two goals in Latin America.

    1. Ensconce themselves across a major oil supply in our own hemisphere, which both positively benefits them and adversely affects us.

    2. Be a threat in our back yard, while giving aid and assistance to those who are avowed enemies of the US, and continuous thorns in our side.

    Hardly the things of cooperation.

  • Cap’n Bill

    Glad to see some awareness of the deplorable situation throughout the Americas to the south. Although our comments have been directed to Russia, please keep in mind the infusion of China into South Americas western coast. The Chinese are splendid businessmen and have a long established record of expansive activities in the marintine world. At one time folks like Peter Grace were important American businessmen in the area. Nothing has replaced their American influence for over fifty years. A great opportunity were “we” smart enough not to go about p-ing off the natives.

  • http://newwars.wordpress.com Mike Burleson

    ” Perhaps 11 carrier strike forces is not enough for the US navy to do its job?’

    You’re right! How about dozens of Influence Squadrons guarded by our 80+ guided missile battleships?

  • Byron

    Mike, what the hell could an “influence squadron” of baby gunboats do against an aircraft that flies around 30K + altitude? No Aegis, no missiles, no nothing except a gunboat Navy.

    Now a Burke with an attitude? Meat on the platter.

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