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Chávez Keeping Up The War of Words

Venezuela has been strongly supportive of Russia for some time now, with the two sharing an arms trade worth $4 billion and a mutual dislike of the US. President Hugo Chávez has been using the Georgian war as a good excuse to weigh in on Russia’s side of the conflict, calling President Mikheil Saakashvili a “puppet” of Washington and defending Russian military action in the country. This week, their strategic partnership took a new turn, with Chávez revealing that Russia had expressed interest in sending a naval fleet to the Caribbean, and, moreover, that Venezuela would welcome such a visit. Well, Chávez has received a scathing response from The White House, which called his keenness to host a fleet “curious”, and accusing him of rejecting more urgent problems in his own country. AFP has the story:

“The Russians and the Venezuelans can engage in whatever cooperation that they would like. But it’s curious, I’m not sure what Venezuela needs or gains by a visit by the Russian fleet,” said [White House] spokesman Gordon Johndroe. “You would think that President Chavez would concentrate more on the problems that the people of Venezuela are having rather than inviting the fleet in for a port call,” he said, adding that he could not confirm the invitation.

I wonder though, does this tit-for-tat exchange suggest real alliances and grievances, or is it merely a war of words?