RUSSIAN MILITARY INTO LATIN AMERICA? Will Moscow Station its Army in Venezuela?


The suffocating situation in which Venezuela has been found, largely due to economic sanctions, has forced the country to consider calling a foreign, that is a Russian, contingent on its territory.

Nowadays, Venezuela continues its fight to never again be a “backyard” of bigger powers, as it used to be in the past.

Lately Caracas has even become the target of threats of military intervention, only because its government follows a path that does not please foreign interests.

Moreover, in the midst of this struggle, Venezuela has also become the victim of a severe economic war, with the risk of being subject to more and more sanctions. Despite erroneous criticism that Venezuela’s economy is faltering due to its planned economy, what has been seen as a sanctions regiment against the country which has caused it grievous harm. Nevertheless, displaying no small amount of leadership, Maduro has publicly taken responsibility for the economy of Venezuela, and promised to rationalize and improve many areas of the economy. This is not analogous to privatization or the introduction of unnecessary market mechanisms.

During the Cold War, the idea that socialism was problematic was never couched in terms of its planned economy. The economic strength of the planned economic system has seen numerous countries rise from peripheral colonies of global capital, into world super-powers. Historic anti-communism was based in criticism of its atheistic social policies, as well as alleged political repression. The idea that ‘socialism will collapse’ due to poor economic theory was not introduced until the mid 1980’s by a series of beltway think-tanks tied to the Reagan and Thatcher administrations. At this time, Gorbachev was already in office and it was understood that he was willing to abort the Soviet project from the inside. Today, Russians debate whether Gorbachev or Yeltsin was responsible for what most in modern Russia believe was the greatest catastrophe in Russian history – not the 1917 Russian Revolution as promoted by a fringe of western based offspring of Monarchist emigres – but the 1992 collapse of the USSR.

We are seeing a continuation of ‘planned economies don’t work’ mantra being played out today by the Venezuelan neo-Gusanos in Florida and New York, who mirror and parrot their Cuban emigre compatriots, mourning the loss of privilege and massive wealth which held back the development of the country and the living conditions of the rest of the population. They have been no small part of the lobbying on beltway politics in DC, and have proved to be effective propagandists, calling for an invasion of their own country, much like Cubans did two generations ago prior to the failed ‘Bay of Pigs’ invasion.

In this context, the government of the Latin American country, considering its risks, considers different options to protect itself. In the past, there have been voices in favor of installing a foreign – Russian – military base on Venezuelan soil as a deterrent. In particular, it was discussed the possibility of placing a Russian contingent in the country.

Venezuelan ambassador to Russia, Carlos Rafael Faría Tortosa, said that the question of setting up a Russian base in the country “has not come up yet”.

‘Win-win’ relationship

“In the 21st century, when multipolarity prevails, any deterrent action that disrupts unilateral efforts by the US government and promotes respect for the self-determination and sovereignty of nations may be welcome or even well-regarded,” said Walter Ortiz.

In fact, Caracas has repeatedly rejected the mere possibility of some kind of war against Venezuela, for the consequences it could have for the country itself and its neighbors.

“Any constructive action that guarantees the sovereignty, peace and integrity of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela could be on the table,” Ortiz said.

It is no secret that Venezuela has a close relationship with the Russian Federation, including in the military field. In this sense, it would be logical that the possibility of opening a Russian military base in Venezuela would be considered by the government, he continued.

In his view, the two countries are deepening cooperation as others continue to seek to create a climate of regional destabilization. Thus, the partnership between Moscow and Caracas can be described as a relationship of mutual gains, he stressed.

Alternative measures

There are a large number of preventive actions that Venezuela could take to prevent aggression. According to Ortiz, Caracas could also resort to economic measures, such as opening up to new market players. As for the possible reduction of belligerency between Venezuela and the Western world, for now this seems an impossible task, believes the interviewee.

“In any case, the [main] task is to maintain internal order and preserve the integrity of the Venezuelan national state,” he said.

In addition, he believed that developing closer ties with Russia would be good not only for Venezuela, but also for the entire Latin American continent.

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At the same time, judging by the statements made by the US ruling class, this idea does not appeal to Washington at all. In fact, Trump’s rhetoric mirrors more and more the Monroe Doctrine.

“Some Venezuelan neighbors have a strategic relationship with the US. Undoubtedly, these relations have a counterbalance in the relationship that Caracas has with other actors,” he concluded.

Side effects

However, the question of the possible installation of a Russian military base in Venezuela is a rather controversial subject because today Moscow is having outstanding problems to deal with on the international stage: the Ukrainian crisis and the war in Syria, explained director of the Latin American Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Boris Martynov.

“It is unlikely that the US will launch a major intervention against Venezuela, but if that happens it could cause a real fire in South America and it would be very difficult to erase it,” he said.

In particular, this could lead to serious problems in neighboring countries, including Colombia, which is now in a process of pacification after years of bloody internal war. Thus, an invasion could make all this work in vain and would mean a huge mistake on the part of Washington.

In fact, if Russia and Venezuela agree to establish a military base in the territory of the Caribbean country, this would provoke a strong repudiation by the White House, analyzes Martynov.

“Washington would accuse Moscow of intervening in the affairs of others, even though the US itself is constantly intervening in the affairs of other countries,” he predicted.

At the same time, it is difficult nowadays to predict how the situation would develop in this case. In Martynov’s opinion, it is also necessary to understand that the installation of a Russian base would be advantageous especially for Venezuela and not for Russia.

The worst of scenarios

If we choose not to consider installing a Russian military base, Venezuela would have several options to resist a possible invasion.

In the worst of scenarios, predicts the Russian expert, Caracas would resort to total population mobilization and guerrilla warfare. It could also appeal to the UN to draw international attention.

Russia, for its part, could help the Maduro government politically, for example, put the issue on the Security Council of the UN or veto any decision that is directed against the sovereignty of Venezuela.

But in this case, it is important to understand that the United States can circumvent the Council’s decisions, as they have done several times in history, argued Martynov.

“No one would be interested in a long-running conflict, not even the United States, which is always betting on a quick war. But an American invasion would not be a simple walk, so it is unlikely to take the risk of initiating it,” he said.

For now, Russia continues to supply arms to Venezuela, which, of course, can not be compared with the creation of a real military base.

In this way, Russia simply continues to fulfill its obligations under its contracts. However, this may somehow contribute to preventing any aggression against Venezuelan sovereignty, the expert noted.

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