Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Vlad the Shirtless may end up losing another shirt. Russia has invested a lot of money in Venezuela, and like any Mafia, Don Vladimir Putin is worried about his investment.
In November 2017, Russia agreed to restructure Venezuelan sovereign debt of $3.15 billion, with repayments lasting 10 years.
Rosneft, Russia’s biggest oil producer and one of the largest globally, operates in Venezuela and has also issued loans to state oil and gas company PDVSA, backed by oil supplies.
According to Rosneft, PDVSA paid $500 million debt during the third quarter of last year, with the outstanding obligations standing at $3.1 billion then.
Rosneft, whose chief executive Igor Sechin is a frequent visitor to Venezuela, has stakes in a number of oil projects in the country. Total oil production from those projects was 8 million tons in 2017, or 161,000 barrels per day.
Rosneft’s share in that oil production was 3 million tons, according to the last publicly available Rosneft documents.
That’s a lot of rubles comrade, especially for a country like Russia, whose GDP is less than Italy’s. There is also a line of credit to Venezuela to purchase arms, to include tanks and aircraft.
None of this money has translated into groceries, or medicine for Venezuelan’s; although Maduro doesn’t look like he has missed too many meals.
RFE/RL: Analysts have described the governments of both Maduro and Putin as “mafia states.” Is this a useful prism for comparing the two countries and understanding their relationship and interaction?
Wigell: Maduro’s government is certainly kleptocratic. It is deeply implicated in the drug trade. It is deeply corrupted. In fact, its whole political-survival strategy is one of trying to tie criminal elements to itself, even giving key ministerial positions to criminals so that they would have an incentive to uphold the regime under any circumstances. These criminals know that if there is a democracy, they might end up in court, so they will do anything to prop up Maduro’s strategy.
So it is kind of a mafia strategy of deliberately corrupting everyone in order to unite them against any regime change.
Now, there are some similarities to the regime in Russia regarding this sort of strategy. Certainly Russian criminal elements and criminal organizations are very much present on the ground in Venezuela. And they have ties to the Venezuelan regime, and they also have certain ties to Moscow. There are these ties that go via these criminal elements, forming a certain element in the Venezuela-Russia relationship.
China’s worried as well because of their own heavy investment’s in Venezuela, but that’s a story for another day.