Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is expected to arrive today for the first time to Caracas, where he has scheduled meetings with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Bolivian President Evo Morales. The agenda will focus on furthering their cooperation on energy, finance and defense, among other areas.
According to Venezuelan Vice President Elías Jaua the new agreements will “take integration with Russia to a whole new level.” Putin’s visit just days after the terrorist bombings appears to be a clear signal of the importance Moscow has assigned to its relations with Venezuela.
Venezuela recently became Russia’s main arms purchaser in Latin America, signing contracts for more than $4.4 billion worth of equipment since 2005. Reports indicate that Chávez will announce the launch of a new joint venture between Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and a Russia energy consortium comprised of Rosneft, Lukoil, TNK-BP, Gazprom and Surgutneftegas.
Putin’s visit also comes less than two weeks after President Álvaro Colom became the first Guatemalan president to visit Russia.