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The Russians Are Coming

n-pyotrveliky.jpgSept. 8, 2008
By Michael Webster: Investigative Reporter
Update: US Cancels Nuclear Deal in response

Russian ocean supply ships are believed heading to Venezuela to deliver more Russian military hardware to Venezuela and will be escorted by Russian naval squadrons of war ships, submarines, and anti-submarine patrol planes.

This armada will be steaming toward Venezuela for a joint military exercise in the Caribbean, a deployment that comes amid increasingly tense relations with the United States. The United States military is believed on alert status.

This dangerous decision to take this action made just a week after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned that Russia would mount an unspecified response to recent U.S. aid shipments to Georgia. Putin further warned he would take military action in response to the U.S. Poland agreement to install defense missiles and radar units in Poland, which are believed to be within a hundred miles of the Russian border.

One of the war ships in that armada, according to a Russian spokesmen said "the Peter the Great missile cruiser (two times as big as ours)  and three other Russian navy ships would visit Venezuela before the year's end, and would be joined by a unit of long-range anti-submarine patrol aircraft."

He did not say how many planes would be sent, but said they would be "temporarily based at one of Venezuela's air bases."

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez publicly announced Sunday on television and radio claiming, the Russian vessels would call on Venezuelan ports this fall.

Chavez, who has cultivated close ties with Moscow and placed big orders for Russian jets, helicopters and other weapons, has repeatedly warned that the U.S. Navy poses a threat to Venezuela.

Diplomatic relations between Caracas and Washington have been tense for years. U.S. officials have warned that Chavez poses a threat to democracy, while Chavez has emerged as Latin America's most outspoken critic of U.S. foreign policy.

The socialist leader ridiculed any U.S. concerns over the joint exercise with the Russian forces, saying, "Go ahead and squeal, Yankees."

Russia has been angered, over the recent deployment of U.S. Navy ships to the Black Sea to deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia, which was ravaged by a five-day war with Russia last month.

Russian officials said past U.S. military assistance for Georgia had encouraged the Caucasus country to launch its offensive in South Ossetia, and argued that the new shipments could be a cover for weapons deliveries.

U.S. officials have dismissed those accusations, saying the ships are carrying only humanitarian supplies such as blankets and powered milk.

Putin last week warned that Russia would respond to the U.S. aid shipments to Georgia, but he did not say how.

"We don't understand what American ships are doing on the Georgian shores, but this is a question of taste, it's a decision by our American colleagues," Putin said. "The second question is why the humanitarian aid is being delivered on naval vessels armed with the newest rocket systems."

Russia's reaction to the U.S. deployment to the Black Sea "will be calm, without any sort of hysteria. But of course, there will be an answer," Putin said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez embody a generation of sophisticated policial maneuvering. In June of this year President Vladimir Putin welcomed Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez for talks at the Russian presidential retreat outside Moscow warning the west that military-technical cooperation were on the agenda.

The Laguna Journal has learned that Chavez has signed a major weapons deal while last in Russia, Putin said at the time bilateral relations were developing and praised the Venezuelan leader.

"We still have ahead of us talks on economic affairs and military-technical ties. So I'm glad to see you," Putin told Chavez at Novo-Ogaryovo, on Moscow's outskirts, before an informal dinner.

The Laguna Journal was told by high ranking Russian official from the Russian Embassy, that an agreement was already signed by both leaders and that Russia will support Venezuela unilaterally."

The agreement includes Russia providing Venezuela with Russian military hard ware which includes tanks, armored personal carriers, missile defense weapons, more military helicopters, and Su-30MK fighter aircraft and Russian military and Russian civil technicians. Intelligence agencies believe much of the Russian military hardware and other supplies have already been delivered. The U.S. has satellite surveillance evidence showing clearly these types of shipments into Venezuela harbors and warehouses.

The U.S. is watching carefully to be sure that offensive missiles are not being transported to Venezuela for installation like those during the Cuban crises in Cuba.

The Russian-Venezuelan economic relationship also extends to the energy sector. Global news reports indicate Venezuela was looking for Russian help to build an ambitious gas pipeline to connect Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, and Russian State firms. LUKoil and Gazprom are increasingly replacing American oil companies in the exploitation of the Orinoco Basin. Although the Russian presence in the exploitation of petroleum in Venezuela is still relatively small, it is growing strong. Venezuela is the fourth oil supplier of the USA.

Since the Russian diplomacy has a clear commitment to restore its world influence, at least at the Cold War level, Chavez also represents for them a door to Latin America and right in the backyard of the states, in terms of military, political and economic influence.

In Latin America, Putin has found an excellent ally in the Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez.  Venezuela represents a new market for Russian exports and investments. During the last three years, Russia has sold Venezuela 100,000 AK-103 assault rifles, 53 helicopters, including 12 Mi-17 military helicopters, and 14 Su-30MK fighter aircrafts. That has represented for Russia earnings of over 5 billion U.S. dollars. Russia has also offered to sell Venezuela 50 of its most advanced warplanes, the MIG 29 Fulcrums. Last year, Chavez stated that Russia would deliver 5 Kilo class 636 diesel submarines to Venezuela, 10 more Su-30MK fighter aircrafts and 5,000 Dragunov sniper riffles. Currently, plans are being made to acquire from Russia an additional 36 helicopters and Su-35 fighters, a yet undetermined number of Antonov transport aircrafts. Talks about setting up a factory of Russian weapons in Venezuela are currently underway.

According to Chavez, he is buying this vast amount of weaponry because he is getting ready for an eventual USA invasion. However, this rearmament causes more concerns among Venezuela's neighbors than to the US, as Chavez is building alliances with subversives groups everywhere in the region. This includes its recent petition for removing the Colombian FARC and ELN from the list of "terrorist organizations," despite that they have kidnapped over 700 people, are involved in arms and drug trafficking, have employed car and gas cylinder bombs, landmines, extortion, hijacking, and enrolled by force poor children in their army to reach their goals.

On Saturday, Venezuelan Rear Admiral Salbatore Cammarata Bastidas said Venezuelan aircraft and submarines would be involved in exercises with the Russians.

"This is of great importance because it is the first time it is being done [in the Americas]," he said in a statement quoted by the AFP news agency and local media.

President Chavez supported Russia's intervention in Georgia last month and has accused Washington of being scared of Moscow's "new world potential".

However, Putin's political ambitions are not only about Russia. He has repeatedly stated that dismantling the Soviet Union was a mistake, and has not hidden his intention of making Russia a true heir of the former Soviet world power. In fact, the Russian attitude toward terrorist states like Iran has been rather weak, as they plan to take advantage of the increasing isolation of the Islamic regime in order to increase Russian influence on them.

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