Venezuela has spent at least 7 billion dollars in Russian weapons. A few days ago, Russia's government approved a $4 billion loan for the Venezuelan military caste to buy more defence material. A part of the loan will be paid in 2012 and a part in 2013.
Russia's Vice-Prime Minister, Igor Sechin, a very close ally of Putin and like Putin a member of the secret service oligarc club, went to Venezuela for the talks. Mr Sechin has been very involved in weapons' deals since his KGB times.
Newspaper Kommersant asked Russian officials why Russia was giving credit to a country with such huge oil reserves. The official said the following: "Chávez is our partner and hence the survival of his regime (sic) is in the interest of Russia. He will use the petrodollars in social programmes. That is why we at the VTS (War-Technical Cooperation Department) can support him"
What are the consequences?
We have reason to believe some Venezuelan military must have got more than a spasibo-note from the Russians for pushing with the Venezuelan caudillo to incur further debts on weapons. This is leading to more corruption and still less desire for a government change.
Will Venezuela become more of a danger for the outside world? We believe not. The military will become an even bigger threat to Venezuelan civilians.
As for the Russians: their secret services, which at least since Litvinenko we know are more interlinked with the mafia than ever thought, are going to see to it Russia doesn't lose such a customer as Venezuela under Chávez.
If you want to understand how deluded Venezuela's caudillo is, you just have to read his latest statement on oil reserves: "in the Orinoco Belt we have oil for 200 years. The rest of the world will run out of oil in the coming 100 years and we will keep exporting".
This man never asked himself what it means to have 200 years of oil...at what extraction rate? for how many consumers? what will happen with supply and demand? what will happen with alternative forces of energy in 20, 30 years - let's not go to a longer term -.
One of the most difficult tasks the Venezuelan alternative forces have ahead is to inform everyone about the pernitious cargo cult the country has developed. Oil could help us get some finance to invest in sustainable development if we make very important changes, but we are running out of time.
Meanwhile, the Venezuelan regime said the budget for 2012 should be calculated with an oil barrel at $50. The reason for this is to avoid sending much money to the local governments - and thus, to a lot of areas under opposition administration - and to divert the petrodollars - we are talking probably about at least $40 per barrel - to populist actions announced by Chávez himself.