Russia and Venezuela today sought mutual support to face the sanctions that the West has imposed on both countries, at a time when Moscow is trying to strengthen ties not only with its closest allies in Latin America, such as Caracas, but also with other countries in the western hemisphere.
“The West severed virtually all relations with our country”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference with his Venezuelan counterpart, Carlos Faría.
Russia, which has to face unprecedented sanctions for its military campaign in Ukraine, considers that “the West is not reliable”, and therefore looks to Latin America, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region to redirect its exports there.
Russia looks to Latin America
With Latin America, said the head of Russian diplomacy, “we will develop relations of all kinds, both economic and political, technical-military and cultural”.
In general, Russia seeks to deepen its ties”with any country that is willing to do so on an equal footing and on mutually beneficial termsLavrov stressed.
In the case of Venezuela, the two countries agreed to advance in projects “mutually beneficial” in a number of areas, including energy, pharmaceuticals, industry, transportation, military-technical cooperation and high technologies, he said.
The strategic partnership between Russia and Venezuela includes cooperation in at least 20 areas.
Bilateral trade increased by almost 50% in 2021, to US$149.7 million.
In Latin America, Moscow’s greatest allies are Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, which have condemned – while themselves subject to sanctions – the Western measures imposed against Russia.
It also maintains good ties with Brazil and Argentina, whose leaders, Jair Bolsonaro and Alberto Fernández, met in February with Russian President Vladimir Putin, just before he began his “special military operation” in Ukraine.
These countries have expressed themselves with more distance -along with Mexico- about the Russian military intervention than others more vehement in rejecting it, such as Chile, Colombia or Guatemala.
Mutual condemnation to sanctions
Faría returned today to condemn the “large amount” sanctions against Russia and the supply “permanent” of weapons by the West to kyiv, which seeks to fuel this conflict in Ukraine.
He argued that these sanctions “did not meet their expectations”, since the Russian economy “go ahead with some drawbacks”.
The chancellor assured that “everybody” they wanted the conflict to end and welcomed the provision “permanent” of Russia, he said, to sit at the dialogue table with Ukraine.
Of course, he made it clear that it should be “guarantee and comply with the requirements and demands that President Vladimir Putin made at the time with the aim of safeguarding the security of the Russian Federation, its territory, and the entire Russian people”.
“We know to what extent the United States and its allies want to undermine the foundations of the Venezuelan economy and we see that the Venezuelan economy has been able to resist and we will naturally help in any way possible.”, stressed Lavrov for his part.
“We agree that the US blockade of sovereign assets in offshore accounts is not only a blatant Wild West-style looting of the assets of unwanted regimes, but also a blatant violation of economic and social rights. of the citizens of these countries”, he added.
Faría pointed out that US sanctions have prevented Venezuela from developing the oil industry, starting with the state-owned company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), which is not allowed any type of financing, purchase of equipment or spare parts.
That is why Caracas began to work with Russia on projects “much more specific” and now they are due “agree on some elements that have to do with how to bypass the blockade”, he explained.
He stressed that Russia already uses “unique means of payment” with China and India, which have increased their imports of Russian oil.
“We hope that this can also happen with PDVSA (…) in order to resolve issues related to finances and transportation“Faria said.
In the face of the sanctions, Moscow promotes a Russian interbank system analogous to SWIFT, to which 12 countries would have been connected, in addition to the payment of goods in local currency instead of the dollar and the euro.