TODAY: Putin pledges South American support, Russia offers $1 billion loan to Venezuela; former Soviet states urge UN and Nato vigilance, tensions continue on both sides; Ukraine could charge Russia for use of Black Sea port; Communists displeased over Solzhenitsyn tribute. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin demonstrated his willingness to prioritize relations with Latin America as it was revealed that Venezuela would receive a $1 billion Russian loan to fund arms purchases. President Dmitry Medvedev has hinted that the presidential role carries too much power. Putin apparently thinks that the World Trade Organization has lost the desire to accept Russia as a member. In a move likely to further aggravate Nato, Putin is calling for an open border between Russia and South Ossetia. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder has warned Nato that a membership invitation to Georgia could lead to a war with Russia. The US is continuing to make threats to Russia over troops still stationed in the breakaway regions of Georgia, but what of Russian resentment stemming from the war?
Poland’s foreign minister has called on Nato to keep closer tabs on Russia, and other new, former Soviet democracies, including Ukraine, are urging the UN to do the same. Ukraine is warning Russia not to encourage its separatist groups, and if Russia wants to keep its navy fleet station in Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Sevastopol, it could be looking at a bill of $1.5-2 billion a year.Russia’s Communists aren’t happy that Moscow’s Big Communist Street has been renamed Solzhenitsyn Street. View aerial images of Russia’s still-visible tree-slogans planted by Soviets in the 1960s and 70s.PHOTO: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez are seen during their meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)