When Moscow and Caracas agreed to extend bilateral co-operation on energy, Hugo Chavez (photo, from bbc.co.uk), Venezualian president, has called for a strategic alliance with Russia to protect his country from the US.
Oil and military cooperation were vital to guarantee Venezuela’s sovereignty, said Hugo Chavez, during a two-day visit to Russia.
Three Russian energy companies are to be allowed to operate in Venezuela, said Dmitry Medvedev, Russian president. Though he gave no details of an anticipated arms deal between the two countries, Mr Chavez seemed upbeat about the prospect of military co-operation.
“If Russia’s armed forces want to be present in Venezuela, they will be given a warm welcome”, he told a news conference after the meeting.
Venezuela would pursue new Russian arms deals “because the North American empire… has plans to invade Venezuela, to disarm Venezuela”, added Hugo Chavez.
He also said that he had felt “strong human warmth” during the meeting with his Russian counterpart, adding that “personal chemistry immediately appeared between us”.
‘Most important partner’
“We are considering issues linked to our strategic partnership, be it in the energy sector, industry, finance, science and technology, or military issues”, said Mr Chavez.
Gazprom, Lukoil and TNK-BP would be allowed to operate in Venezuela’s resource-rich Orinoco Belt , said Mr Medvedev after the talks.
“Venezuela is now the most important partner of the Russian Federation”, said the Russian president, a former chairman of Gazprom.
He also said that a proposal, which aim is to create a group of leading gas producers similar to the oil cartel, Opec, had not been abandoned.
Focusing on economic and military co-operation, Vladimir Putin, Russian prime minister, and Hugo Chavez held warm talks.