Sechin as Russia’s New Viktor Bout?

viktorbout091909.jpgDid you know that Igor Sechin allegedly worked with the famous arms dealer Viktor Bout back in Mozambique in the 1980s?  Neither did I, but you probably already know we have been watching all these orders coming for more Russian tanks from Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez while at the same time more and more FARC links to Caracas are surfacing.  It’s just so strange to think that the key individual who somehow allegedly ties together Russian weapons to the Venezuelans and then onward to FARC is in a Thai jail, where, apparently, the authorities are under the impression that FARC is not even a terrorist organization but rather a political party.  According to this editorial in the Washington Post, the Russian government have been pushing the Thais very hard not to extradite Bout to the United States, where his trial could spill some serious secrets.  In fact, he stands a good chance of being set free, as Thai judges seem to respond well to offers of cheap oil, fighter jets, and the classic, straight up bribe.

At any rate, here is a beginner’s guide from Ariel Cohen and Owen B. Graham in the Washington Times:

The framework for the arms deal was partially laid during Russian deputy premier and energy czar Igor Sechin’s visit to Caracas in July. During Mr. Sechin’s trip, a number of wide-ranging cooperation accords covering energy, military and agricultural cooperation were signed. Mr. Sechin’s trip was intended to prepare the ground for Mr. Chavez’s upcoming visit to Moscow.

Mr. Sechin, the head of the siloviki (men of power), has emerged as Russia’s point man on global energy geopolitics. He graduated from Leningrad State University (Vladimir Putin’s alma mater) in 1984 as a linguist in Portuguese and French. In the 1980s, Mr. Sechin worked in Mozambique and in Angola, officially as an interpreter, but according to numerous intelligence sources, he was a Glavnoye Razvedyvatel’noye Upravleniye (GRU) officer there.

Geopolitical information service Stratfor claims that Mr.Sechin was “the USSR’s point man for weapons smuggling to much of LatinAmerica and the Middle East.” He reportedly served with well-knowninternational arms dealer Viktor Bout in Mozambique in the 1980s.

Russia uses arms sales to gain friends and influencegovernments. Weapons are a key component of the Kremlin’s relationshipwith Venezuela. This deal builds on previous arms sales worth $4.4billion signed between 2005 and 2007, which included advanced Sukhoifighter jets, combat helicopters, and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, plusa whole factory to produce more.

Besides capitalizing on arms and energy as foreign-policytools, Venezuelan and Russian leaders are among the trendsetters in thedemocracy rollback taking place since the late 1990s. The rulers ofRussia and Venezuela are increasingly rejecting civil society, muzzlingor manipulating the media, and narrowing political space in theirrespective countries. Recently, Mr. Chavez cracked down on oppositionradio stations. Both governments have mounted sustained attacks on therule of law, and limited market access to keep out international energycompanies.

Their statist efforts are excessively strengthening the state,limiting political freedoms, expanding geopolitical clout, andthreatening American friends. It may be time for the State Departmentto declare Venezuela a terrorist-sponsoring state. Both Russia andVenezuela are among Iran’s principal supporters and have contacts withHezbollah and Hamas.

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One Comment

  1. Justina
    Posted August 21, 2009 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    The U.S. — and the international energy companies its military serves — has forced Venezuela to divert some of its oil profits from improving its social services to increasing its defense budget. Since the U.S. has actively stopped several NATO countries from selling planes and other equipment to Venezuela, it has had to look to Russia for its purchases. Thus, reactionary U.S. policy has once again pushed a Latin American company into a rival camp.In April of 2008, The Bush administration re-established the long defunct Fourth Fleet for use in Venezuela’s backyard, the Caribbean. The U.S.’s Fourth Fleet has not been active since 1950. This was expressly intended as “signal” to Latin America. According to the head of the U.S. Navel Command:”Reconstituting the Fourth Fleet recognizes the immense importance of maritime security in the southern part of the Western Hemisphere, and sends a strong signal to all the civil and military maritime services in Central and Latin America,” said Roughead. “Aligning the Fourth Fleet along with our other numbered fleets and providing the capabilities and personnel are a logical execution of our new Maritime Strategy.” (Navy Reestablishes U.S. 4th Fleet,Story Number: NNS080424-13 South Com, Release Date: 4/24/2008)Add the Fourth Fleet, to the two U.S. bases currently in Curacao, a few miles from Venezuela’s port city of Punto Fijo, and Aruba, a few miles to the east of the Venezuelan coast, and the 7 new planned bases in Colombia, one right on the border of Venezuela’s oil rich Zulia State, and Venezuela will be literally surrounded by U.S. military forces. Any country so threated would be foolish not to increase its weapons purchases from any available source.The U.S., and its puppet in Colombia, Uribe, has also upped its public relations attack on Venezuela by airing false allegations of Venezuela’s supplying weapons to Colombia’s FARC rebels, an Iraq-style “justification” for yet another attack on a non-threatening oil country. The 1980′s Swedish weapons Chavez is accused of giving the FARC were actually stolen from a Venezuelan military base in a publicized FARC attack in 1995, three years before Chavez was first elected in 1998.Coupled with the false magic computer-generated disinformation about supposed FARC contributions to Ecuador’s Correa’s election, and you have a repeat of the 2002 forged Niger uranium documents used to justify the invasion of Iraq.Venezuela’s only “threat” to U.S. oil interests is its vast oil resources, just as with Iraq. Stupidly, the Obama administration is following the Bush-Cheney foreign relations manual, which effectively turned Iran into the big winner in the Middle East. The new U.S. military moves has awakened fear throughout South and Central America, cementing their unity against the new U.S. imperialism.