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Venezuela – Russia ramp up economic ties with a ten-year plan

By Andreína Chávez Alava

Guayaquil, Ecuador, – Venezuela and Russia have signed agreements on energy, trade, financial, transport, military, agricultural, and pharmaceutical cooperation, among other areas.

The trade deals, which form part of a 10-year agenda, were the result of five technical meetings held in Caracas as part of the High-Level Intergovernmental Commission (CIAN) framework. Russian deputy prime minister Yuri Borisov, who led the Kremlin commission, met with president Nicolás Maduro, vice president Delcy Rodríguez, and oil minister Tareck El Aissami.

Borisov said the agreements centered around “joint investment projects in the development of Venezuela’s hydrocarbon reserves,” vowing that trade between the two nations will continue to grow.

The Russian envoy highlighted that bilateral relations “have shown capacity to counteract sanctions” imposed against the Latin American country by the US, the European Union (EU) and their allies in recent years.

“We rigorously condemn the practice of unilateral sanctions against Venezuela that greatly affect the country’s social situation and limits the possibility of purchasing food and medicine,” he told reporters.

Sanctions against Venezuela began in 2015 but were increased from 2017 when the US targeted state-owned PDVSA with financial sanctions, an oil embargo and a host of other measures. The US and allies have also frozen around $7 billion in Venezuelan assets abroad. In early 2020, secondary sanctions forced Russian energy giant Rosneft to shut down its dealings with PDVSA, with its assets taken over by a Kremlin-owned company.

Venezuelan authorities denounced that the US blockade has hampered the acquisition of vaccines and medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, top United Nations officials have urged countries to lift all coercive measures after attesting they violate human rights and international law. US representatives have likewise called on the Biden administration to revise its sanctions policy and consequences, with a 2019 report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) finding that the measures were responsible for the deaths of 40,000 Venezuelans.

The talks between Russia and Venezuela’s delegations took place as COVID-19 infections reached a six-month high in the Caribbean country, with 1,348 new cases in the last 24 hours. Caracas has received approximately 250,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine out of a ten million purchase, and the Venezuelan government signed a new deal to participate in Russia’s EpiVacCorona vaccine trials within the CIAN framework.

For his part, Venezuelan Oil Minister El Aissami said Russia’s support has helped Venezuela mitigate the damage caused by the US-led sanctions. He stated that bilateral relations “have allowed us to stimulate 20 important areas of cooperation, among which the financial, energy, technical-military, pharmaceutical, and transportation sectors stand out.”

El Aissami went on to stress the two countries’ lasting cooperation on energy and the consolidation of the OPEC+ “virtuous mechanism” that seeks to “stabilize, recover and gradually and sustainably rebalance the global oil market.”

The CIAN delegations additionally signed treaties to modernize the Venezuelan transportation system and improve satellite surveillance. Direct flights between the two capitals are also due to resume in April.

Among the Russian companies that form part of the commission is biotechnology company Geropharm, which signed an agreement to produce, in Venezuelan territory, more than 34 million insulin doses over the next five years to serve 2.96 million patients. Diabetic patients have faced severe insulin shortages as a result of US sanctions.

Furthermore, Russian state corporation Rostec participated in the meetings and said it will apply its technology to ensure Venezuela’s oil industry’s security. The company added, in a statement published by Russian agency TASS, that the cooperation will include protection of power generation facilities against cyberattacks, equipment supplies and fire-fighting appliances, “as well as investment projects in Venezuela.”

The bilateral CIAN commission will meet again in Moscow in the second half of 2021.

Edited by Ricardo Vaz from Mérida.



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