Venezuela Strengthens Ties to Russia and Belarus with Chavez Visit
Saturday, Jun 30, 2007
By: Chris Carlson – Venezuelanalysis.com
Mérida, June 30, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrived in Moscow Thursday and in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, Friday as part of his three-nation tour of Russia, Belarus, and Iran that began on Wednesday. Meetings in Moscow and Minsk have the intention of strengthening economic and military cooperation with Venezuela as well as the construction of strategic political alliances.
Beginning his activities in Russia on Thursday, where he discussed increasing Russian investment in Venezuela as well as the purchase of several Russian submarines, the Venezuelan President first praised the role, in his opinion, that Russia plays in counterbalancing U.S. power.
“The Soviet Union, we say with a lot of respect, unfortunately fell. But Russia did not disappear, nor did the people that make it up,” said Chavez in a speech yesterday at the inauguration of a Latin American Cultural Center in Moscow. “There is a rebirth in Russia that has lifted her up again as a new center of power. And we, the people of the world, need Russia, and China, to get stronger and stronger,” he assured.
Chavez warned that the greatest threat to the world is “North American imperialism” and assured that the economic and military agreements with Russia were not his only priorities. The Venezuela leader also considers Russia important for curtailing U.S. influence and constructing a multi-polar world.
“We either break North American imperialism or North American imperialism will destroy the world,” Chavez said. “The empire must understand that it cannot dominate the world,” he declared congratulating Putin’s efforts to resist the U.S. in its plans to install a missile shield in Eastern Europe.
Both presidents met later Thursday evening in Putin’s Presidential Residence in Novo-Ogariovo in the outskirts of Moscow to discuss economic and military matters. Chavez said he hopes to boost Russian-Venezuelan business ties, especially in the energy sector, including the construction of oil refineries and a natural gas pipeline.
The two leaders discussed the creation of a bilateral fund to finance new projects of economic alliance. For the creation of said fund the two leaders plan two future meetings, one in Moscow in September and the second in October in Caracas.
“The fund,” said Chavez, “will study the viability of concrete projects for processing raw materials, constructing oil refineries, petrochemicals, the food industry, transport, fishing and construction.”
Chavez invited Russian oil companies to help develop the Orinoco River basin, where, earlier this week, the U.S. companies Exxon and Conoco refused to sign new deals with the Venezuelan government and gave up their operations there. Russian companies already have operations in the basin recognized as the world’s single largest known oil deposit, potentially holding 1.2 trillion barrels of extra-heavy crude, of which about 240 billion barrels are believed to be recoverable.
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