Russia-Venezuela Military Cooperation: A Headache for the US

Misión Verdad Su-30 squadron in aerial exercises in Venezuela (Photo: Correo del Orinoco)

The military operations orchestrated by the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria at the beginning of the current century have left the country not only with high economic and logistical costs, but also with political costs, in terms of the sense of defeat displayed by the world power vis-à-vis the rest of the world and the progressive gaze of the Arab countries towards the Eurasian powers.

On the contrary, overthrowing governments considered obstacles to hemispheric security has required considerably less technical-military operations on the part of the Southern Command and they are well placed in the designated location.

Considered their backyard, the southern countries to which the United States manages to have unrestricted access (after returning to the Monroe Doctrine as a foreign policy) become platforms for installing military bases that protect the area of influence reached. Colombia is the best example, but Peru, Paraguay, Panama, and soon Ecuador are not forgotten.

If you look at the recent military threats against Venezuela under the geopolitical prism, it can be interpreted as the search for a much safer frontier than Iran or North Korea, in the race to demonstrate the strength that the United States considered hegemony must make to the emerging multipolar world.

Since the installation of the illegitimate parallel government presided over by Juan Guaidó, the announcements of an escalation of the conflict with U.S. military participation do continue in the communiqués of President Donald Trump and his closest officials, without this crystallizing into action.

But at the same time, the United States has made efforts to develop a plan that focuses on eroding the unity of the Bolivarian National Armed Force (FANB) in order to create ideal conditions for more comfortable entry into Venezuelan territory. The crusade, waged through discrediting, blackmail in the form of amnesty, public calls for insurrection and penetration of forces to carry out destabilization operations, is seeking a turning point among the main military components.

This is what can be observed if one recounts both the covert operations to push the coup agenda, dismantled in 2018, as well as the concurrent public invitations to ignore the legitimate government of President Nicolás Maduro, by the U.S. State Department against the FANB.

At the highest Venezuelan military rank, now is the time to stand by the people of Venezuela. It is your right and responsibility to defend the constitution and democracy for Venezuela!

– John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) February 3, 2019

Why does the country with the highest military expenditures in the world take these precautions before going into direct confrontation with a nation that supposedly has limited capacity to defend itself?

Russian Military Equipment for Venezuelan Operational Readiness

Since Hugo Chávez came to power, Venezuela has devoted part of its public expenditure to a successful investment in the defence sector by alternative routes to the US military industry, after Washington denied the acquisition of veteran F16 fighter-bombers in 2006.

From there, bilateral relations were established with Russia to equip the country with rifles, tanks, vehicles, combat aircraft, warships, transport helicopters and anti-aircraft missile systems, the techno-military vanguard above and beyond Anglo technology.

From the latter, a tiered long, medium and short range air defence system was formed, as detailed by Rubén Castillo in a previous investigation for Misión Verdad. It consists of ZU-23 anti-aircraft guns, Iglas-S portable missiles, Pechora 2M anti-aircraft systems and Buk-M2E mobile missile systems.

To close this defence package, there is the S-300VM mobile anti-aircraft system, the most sophisticated weapon to deactivate air missiles in the Latin American region, acquired by the national government in 2013. Suffice it to say that Colombia, a country that has been militarily equipped with U.S. expertise, does not have a similar anti-aircraft defense.

In terms of attack capability, Russia supplied the famous Sukhoi 30-C and 50 fourth-generation aircraft, which are part of the national air force. This fighter plane is considered the most advanced of its kind, including American fighters.

Venezuela’s geopolitical turn led it to deepen military cooperation with Russia in other arms production links, aiming at technology transfer and technical training of Venezuelan personnel. In 2006, an agreement was signed to build a Russian helicopter maintenance and repair facility, completed in 2013.

In addition, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez announced that the Kalashnikov factory, an agreement initiated in the same year and resumed in 2016, will be inaugurated this year. In its facilities, models 103 and 104 of the AK assault rifles will be manufactured, as well as ammunition.

Recently, President Nicolás Maduro said in an interview with the Sputnik agency that the most modern equipment in the world arrives in Venezuela, in reference to the permanent military cooperation with Vladimir Putin’s government.

This list of equipment, far more advanced than that of the nations of the Middle East region facing the United States, is only the technical aspect of the FANB. To complete the picture, it would be necessary to recognize the integration of 1 million 600 thousand civilians to the Bolivarian National Militia, for example, as the vital human component for the integral defense of the territory.

Likewise, the insertion of Russian armament in Bolivarian military doctrine in order to face each possible scenario of military intervention is key at the height of a warlike scenario and in pursuit of the country’s territorial and population defense.

Geopolitical keys to bilateral military agreements

The alliances forged by both nations are not limited to commercial agreements for the purchase and sale of defence equipment. Countries operate on the principles of foreign non-intervention. The Russian-Venezuelan dynamic that has been developed is far removed from the formation of military colonies that the United States coordinates in subordinate countries.

The year 2018, charged with multiple operations against the Venezuelan state, with the assassination attempt as the highest point, also had a greater rapprochement with the Russian Federation in order to dissuade Washington from deepening the siege of the country.

At the beginning of last December, joint manoeuvres were carried out with the “White Swans”, supersonic bombers of the former Soviet Union, with the aim of exchanging experiences between both countries. Together with these Tupolev 160 planes, the Russian delegation arrived, consisting of a hundred military personnel.

The Kremlin, a determining agent to de-escalate the war in Syria, had just counteracted the aggressions of Ukraine in the Sea of Azov to provoke a naval conflict, a movement that was supported by the United States and its NATO allies.

Anti-Russian propaganda conceived of these joint actions as a “waste of public funds,” in the words of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The truth is that the maneuver sent a strong message condemning any attempt to overturn the political situation in Venezuela.

The activity was preceded by a meeting between Minister Vladimir Padrino and his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigou, in the framework of a visit to Venezuela.

Russia and Venezuela have much to do for balance and world peace. We will do that in frank and mutual cooperation, with clear and promising goals for both peoples. This was ratified today in this fruitful and cordial meeting with Minister Sergey Shoigú.

– Vladimir Padrino L. (@vladimirpadrino) December 6, 2018

The degree of commitment is now manifested when in the wake of the openly launched threats of military intervention against Venezuela, Russia participated as a diplomatic actor to denounce U.S. interference in the country’s internal affairs at the UN Security Council meeting held at the end of January.

The subsequent denunciations by the Russian Foreign Ministry of the “determinations shown by Washington in dividing the Venezuelan army and overthrowing the constitutional government of Venezuela” confirms the cohesion of diplomatic relations at a time when U.S. actions are excessive and violent.

The Venezuelan state, understanding that war is not reduced to armed confrontation, developed a consequent multipolar strategy in its foreign policy including heavy factors of the Eurasian bloc that today are showing positive results due to the intensification of foreign aggressions.

Translation by Internationalist 360°