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How Smart is Russia’s Venezuela Move?

russia_venezuela100108.jpgBlogger Robert Farley reads the news about Russian nuclear warships being dispatched for exercises off the coast of Venezuela, and asks some interesting questions about exactly how effective this move might be in terms of prompting a desirable outcome from Washington:

On this latter, am I wrong in thinking of this as a clumsy Russian effort to threaten the backyard of the United States, just as the United States can threaten the backyard of Russia? I have a longer post on this subject in the works, but I guess that I just don’t quite understand this effort; the United States can do things in the near abroad that actually threaten Russia (rebuilding the Georgian military, pressing for Georgian/Ukranian entry to NATO, building bigger and better missile shields, etc.) while Russia can do things in Latin America that mildly annoy the United States. While the Russians may expect these mild annoyances to deter the United States (Vladimir Irvingovitch Kristol whispering in Putin’s ear, perhaps?), I find it much more likely that the US will overreact and respond with more threatening behavior towards Russia, including those things that the Russians are trying to deter us from doing. Thoughts?

Also related, Daragh McDowell points out that the fact that Igor Sechin is running the Cuba-Venezuela political theater production, we should take it more seriously – something we have also argued. Excerpt after the jump.

Source:

The US Open Source Center (sorry, no link to article) has reported that Igor Sechin has been made chair of the Russia-Cuba and Russia-Venezuela inter-governmental commissions and is trying to set up something similar with Nicaragua (to date, the only state that’s actually bothered to recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia.) (….)Officially Sechin’s government brief is energy and industry, but given traditional Russian trade links with the above countries this gives him an excuse to dabble in foreign affairs (and expand his own industrial power base through sales of military hardware.) While the internal justification for these moves might be that renewed mischief in the Caribbean is an appropriate response to US actions post Georgia, renewed mischief will also increase the stature and importance of Sechin and his group. Its something of a chicken and egg situation, but given the continuing power struggle between the various Kremlin interest groups its something to keep in mind.