Wednesday, April 03, 2019

The Russian Conundrum in Venezuela

A Russian political analyst writes about why Russia sent troops to Venezuela. What echoes throughout is the notion of equality.

By taking a stand in the United States’ backyard, Moscow also hopes to make itself a more valuable partner for Washington on other issues, particularly those in Russia’s backyard. While structuring a “big deal” with Trump that would require haggling on Venezuela, the Middle East and Ukraine is probably not feasible, simply re-engaging with Washington on equal footing is in itself important.
Venezuela per se is unimportant. Vladimir Putin has no interest in either Chavismo or the Venezuelan people. What this particular article also reminds me, however, is that Russia's interest is not simply antagonistic. It is the use of power to force the United States to recognize Russia's diplomatic equality. Or, as the short Dr. Seuss movie I've seen a million times because I have three children tell us, "We are here, we are here, we are here."
While Russia is under no obligation to defend Venezuela (although state-owned Rosneft has about $9 billion invested there), the country is important to the Kremlin’s narrative of Russia’s return to the global stage as a great power that shapes a new multi-polar world order and has the capability to check destabilizing American unilateralism.
Trump himself said, "Russia has to get out," and then followed up with his oft-repeated "all options are on the table" line that seems mostly to mean inaction. Putin clearly seems to think Trump is bluffing, particularly because Trump has been threatening Venezuela nonstop.

A short while ago I wrote this about China and Russia:
The two countries constitute Maduro's lifeline and we just don't know at what point they are willing to cute him loose. Neither wants to appear to concede to the United States or to lose their investments. I assume the latter can be worked out but the former is tough.
Tough indeed. It seems that Russia is digging in, which means the reputational costs of leaving are increasing exponentially. The two sides are barking at each other, and we can only hope they stay leashed.


shah8 2:28 AM  

I sort of disagree with Moscow Times. Fundamentally, I think the Russian (And the Chinese, AAAaaand the Cubans) are mostly interesting in turning Venezuela into a tar baby for American hostility, so that much less material hostility can be expressed closer to their goals.

And Russia isn't going to turn on Venezuela for anything less than Magnitsky.

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