Chavez to Head to Russia, Belarus, Iran, in Latest Bid to Heckle US - 2007

With his anti-US rhetoric, his political alliances with Cuba, Iran and Russia, and his gradual monopolization of his country's major economic assets, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is becoming a serious problem for Washington. A major concern among American officials has also been the arming of the Venezuelan military by modern Russian made weaponry and President Chavez's efforts to create an international geopolitical union that is fully independent of Washington's influences.
Moscow's close relationship with President Chavez is slowly beginning to resemble that of the Soviet Union's strategic relationship with Cuba during the Cold War. With Fidel Castro slowly withering away due to age, President Chavez has been the one providing a new ideological push and a new energy within South America. The biggest difference between Venezuela and Cuba, however, is that Venezuela can be economically self-sufficient due to its vast energy potential. Therefore, unlike Cuba during the Cold War, Venezuela today is not dependent on Moscow for handouts. This makes for an ideal relationship between the two strategic partners. 
Consequently, there are serious concerns in Washington that Venezuela is becoming an anti-American  stronghold and a Russian outpost within its very backyard. Needless to say, American officials have been looking for ways to remove the popularly elected leader in Caracas. In fact, they are actively trying oust him. Moreover, Washington has also been strengthening its relationship with Colombia and building up its military. It is doing this to create a counterbalance to Venezuela. Simply put, American-Venezuelan relations are at an all time low and has the potential to turn hostile. Although the Middle East and Central Asia gets much of the media coverage in recent times, there is a real risk today for a major international war breaking out inside South America.

In closing I'd like to say that to some degree President Hugo Chavez reminds me of President Vladimir Putin: President Chavez has put Venezuela firmly on the geopolitical map; he has thwarted attempts at driving him out of power; he has driven troublemakers out of his country; he is gradually taking over control of the nation's assets from the hands of foreign exploiters; he is feverishly modernizing and building up the Venezuelan armed forces; and, along with President Putin and President Ahmadinejad, President Chavez has been one of the few voices today speaking against American hegemony.



Chavez to Head to Russia, Belarus, Iran, in Latest Bid to Heckle US

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez travels this week to Iran, Russia and Belarus -- all countries which have found themselves at loggerheads recently with the United States, his longtime nemesis.


Chavez departs Tuesday for his week-long tour, from June 26 to July 3, defiantly insisting that he will purchase Russian submarines and possibly an air defense system from Belarus, despite vocal objections from Washington. Chavez, who views himself as Bush's arch-enemy, will be cultivating relations with each of the regimes, in an apparent bid to drive an even deeper wedge with between the United States and its adversaries. Each of the countries on Chavez's itinerary has locked horns with Washington in recent weeks over conflicts that have yet to be resolved. Chavez has said he hopes to put the "finishing touches" on an agreement to purchase from Belarus an integrated air defense system with a 200-300-kilometer range (125-200 miles). Earlier this month, US President George W. Bush renewed sanctions against hard-line Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and nine others deemed obstacles to democracy in Belarus. Bush accused the regime of human rights abuses, undermining democracy, illegally detaining and secretly holding dissidents and engaging in public corruption. Relations between Russia and the United States, meanwhile, are at a post-Cold War low due to political and security differences.

Specifically, Moscow and Washington have traded barbs about a US plan to place interceptor missiles in Poland and elements of a linked radar system in the Czech Republic. Bush will welcome Russian President Vladimir Putin to his family's compound in Kennebunkport, Maine on July 1 and 2 -- on the heels of Chavez' visit to Moscow -- in an effort to smooth over differences. Flush with petrodollars, Chavez said last week he might purchase some Russian submarines when he meets with Putin -- a deal observers said could chill the planned Putin-Bush summit. Media reports in Moscow this month said Chavez wanted to buy as many as nine submarines to protect shipping lanes for key oil exports. In 2006 Venezuela signed more than three billion dollars in contracts with Russia to buy 53 Mi-24 armored helicopter gunships, Sukhoi 30 fighter planes and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles. Meanwhile Washington's already frosty relations with Tehran also hit a new low, as the international community campaigned to pressure Iran to dismantle its controversial nuclear program.

The United States, which broke diplomatic ties with Iran in 1979, also is demanding the safe return of four Iranian-American citizens whom Tehran has charged with spying. It is not yet known what Chavez plans to do in Iran, which is a charter member of Bush's "axis of evil" troika of alleged global trouble-makers that included North Korea and Iraq under the late Saddam Hussein. Tehran in recent weeks has implemented a crackdown on its nationals deemed too close to the West. The country's National Security Council has sent a three-page warning to all the country's newspaper editors detailing banned topics, including the rise in gasoline prices and other economic woes. At least three nongovernment organizations in Iran that have pressed for broader legal rights or civil society have been shut down, while hundreds more have been forced underground, according to news reports. Iranian academics also have been warned against attending overseas conferences or having any contact with foreign governments, lest they be recruited as spies. In an address to some 15,000 young members of his new party now being set up, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, Chavez last week said some had the idea his trip to Russia would complicate US-Russian relations. "In the United States, they say my trip to Moscow is a concern and that they don't look favorably on my meeting with the president, my friend Vladimir Putin," Chavez said Saturday, accusing Washington of meddling where it doesn't belong.

"These relations are highly strategic, and are tied up with our security, defense, and overall development," he said. Chavez's visit to Iran, Belarus and Russia has preempted his attendance at the June 28-30 summit in Asuncion of the Mercosur trade bloc -- a group that includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Chavez "had a standing commitment in Moscow by invitation of president Putin when he received the Mercosur invitation," the Foreign Ministry spokesman said, speaking on condition of anonymity.


President Chavez Adds Russia to His Anti-U.S. Arsenal

Yesterday, President Hugo Chavez started his trip to Russia in the southern city of Volgograd. Vladimir Putin, with whom the Venezuelan leader will meet tomorrow, appears unfazed by the fact that by receiving Hugo Chavez, he is ranking himself amongst Alexander Lukashenko [authoritarian President of Belerus] and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [President of Iran]. Moscow is anticipating the signing of lucrative arms export contracts during the visit, while Caracas is eager to create an anti-American petroleum bloc.


A delegation of dignitaries, including Volgograd Governor Nikolay Maksyuta and a Cossack ensemble called "Azure Flower," met the Venezuelan president at the Volgograd airport. As the president stepped onto the ladder, Governor Maksyuta rushed to hug and kiss him. Chavez greeted Maksyuta like an old friend and Azure Flower struck up a Cossack song. They gave Hugo Chavez a glass of vodka on a saber, and Chavez drank it down in a single gulp. The party then traveled to Volgograd City Hall where Chavez held talks with Governor Maksyuta, Nikolay Pumpyansky, the head of a pipe production company called TMK, President of LUKOIL, Vagit Alekperov, and some local businessmen. Chavez preferred not to hold a press conference, but gave a speech on the porch of City Hall. He began his impromptu speech with the words, "Long Live Lenin!" waiving to the gaping onlookers gathered around a monument to Lenin, and then wished the same to, "Volgograd, Putin and the entire Russian Government."

The Venezuelan leader said that during his visit to Moscow, he was going to discuss the construction of a plant to produce pipes in Venezuela, in order to build an immense 8,000 kilometer [5,000 mile] pipeline that would run across the entire length of Latin America, and which is estimated to cost some $20 billion. Hugo Chavez reported that he was planning "another project with the participation of Russian Aluminum [RUSAL]" but he gave no other details. "We are trying to break the American blockade," Chavez said. "They want to disarm us and reign over the entire world." Chavez never made it to Volgograd's military enterprises, although the visits were on the agenda. He said he had already been to the Barrikady plant of the Russian Research Institute of Space Instrument-Making, and he decided not go to the Volgograd Tractor plant, where armored vehicles had been prepare for him, because he was running late. Today [July 27], Venezuela's leader will visit the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant. Later, he will set out for Moscow to meet Vladimir Putin.


Hugo Chavez has been arranging his visit to Russia for quite some time. The Venezuelan President greatly wanted to come much earlier - even as early as May or June. The Russian side, however, on the eve of the G-8 Summit, preferred to put off the visit and lower its status to an ordinary working meeting, with informal talks with Vladimir Putin. Hugo Chavez agreed to this, since the Russia trip is of enormous value to him. The visit is important in two senses: technical and ideological. Hugo Chavez expects to derive two major benefits: to obtain a major weapons purchase from Russia, and to teach another lesson to the United States. Hugo Chavez has spent years honing his role as leader of global anti-Americanism. For Hugo Chavez, Latin America is the first front for his plans, as he works diligently to surround Venezuela with an axis of state-adherents to his revolutionary Bolivarian ideas. These activities have met with mixed success so far. A friendly regime has been established in Bolivia, but Chavez' allies are suffering defeat in Ecuador, Peru and Mexico.

In spite of a luke-warm reception on the continent for his Bolivarian ideas, the President of Venezuela has not given up his fight. And one of the main levers he has to apply pressure with appears to be Russian weapons. Two months ago, the Venezuelan leader declared a total halt to purchases of weapons to the United States, just a few weeks after the U.S. introduced an embargo on arms sales to Caracas. The two actions were provoked by the growing level of military and technical cooperation between Venezuela and Russia. Moreover, Chavez obviously expects to become a key distributor of Russian weapons in Latin America. Chavez motives for buying increasing amounts of Russian arms, which is repeated by him almost every day: "the threat of an American military invasion." According to him, Washington has mapped out a plan for attacking Venezuela, and Caracas is familiar with the details. Chavez frequently instructs his people on how they should prepare to hold the line against the United States - blow up oil deposits, go to the mountains and "defend every street, every hill and every corner" with Kalashnikovs from Russia.

The United States, however, is convinced that Hugo Chavez is arming himself not for the sake of protection, but in order to accelerate the spread of his ideas in Latin America. Moreover, Washington claims that some of the weapons purchased by Chavez will be passed on to the Columbian rebels, who have been fighting a civil war against the government for over 30 years. In any case, his visit to Russia is certain to bolster Hugo Chavez and his supporters and increase Washington's concerns. Back in 2005, Caracas and Moscow signed a scandalous contract for the sale of 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles. The contract was executed, and the first shipment has already been pressed into service by the Venezuelan army. Chavez, however, has never hid the fact that he thinks 100,000 Kalashnikovs is insufficient. Venezuela is ready to buy 920,000 additional rifles and is now in talks with Rosoboronexport, Russia's military export agency, to set up the licensed production of AK-103 assault rifles in Venezuela. In addition, a contract has been signed to supply Venezuela with 33 Russian Mi-35 helicopters and 24 Su-30MK2 jets, to replace the American F-16 currently used by the Venezuelan Air Force. The contracts are estimated at $3 billion.


But an even more important weapon for Chavez - this is oil. Venezuela is one of the most important oil exporters in the world, and a vital supplier of energy to the United States. For this reason, Chavez has positioned himself as a world champion of high oil prices. The Venezuelan leader is a major agitator for reducing oil production quotas at OPEC, something that would trigger hikes in fuel prices. Hugo Chavez' battle for influence against the U.S. is not only in Latin America. Its second front - is the entire rest of the world. Long ago, He began persistently drawing to himself leaders whose interests are to a certain degree - at odds with U.S. policy. This has never been as clear as during his present tour: The trip looks like a ritual "global tour" of the "Axis of Evil." At the beginning of the trip, he met Fidel Castro in Buenos Aires. With Fidel's blessing he went to see Alexander Lukashenko, "the last dictator of Europe [Belarus]. The two leaders met for the first time in Minsk and had a good time propagating anti-American rhetoric. Giving advice to Alexander Lukashenko, Chavez said, "the jaws of imperialism and hegemony hang over Belarus. Our countries must keep our hands on the hilts of our swords."

From Russia, the President of Venezuela will travel to Iran. The encounter of the two most outspoken critics of America - Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – promises to be the climax of his tour. Initially, Chavez planned to visit North Korea and meet Kim Jong-il, but the Venezuelan leader gave up the idea without explanation, and decided to go to Vietnam, Qatar and Mali instead. Significantly, the Venezuelan leader virtually placed Russia among the rogue states. Vladimir Putin, who agreed to meet Chavez in the course of his visit, has put himself in the company of Ahmadinejad and Lukashenko. After hosting the G8 Summit, Moscow is again demonstrating when it suits its interests, it can respond to Western criticism by turning to its enemies. Energy resources are central to Chavez and this "axis" he has assembled. Venezuela, Iran, Russia and Qatar - the countries that Hugo Chavez is to visit - are all major oil and gas suppliers. Therefore, the Venezuelan leader's tour is undoubtedly to create an anti-Western oil bloc. It is obvious that this is the same purpose as the leaders who receive him. Hugo Chavez has gone on anti-American oil tours nearly every year since he assumed office. Only his first such trip in 2000 bypassed Russia. That year he went to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Indonesia, Libya, Nigeria, Algeria and even Iraq, where he met Saddam Hussein. Since 2001, leaders of oil powers have become increasingly reluctant to meet Chavez, and furthermore, he never visited Saddam Hussein again. Yet, the Venezuelan never fails to come to Moscow.


Russia Supplies Weapons to Venezuela Without Any Political Strings Attached

RIA Novosti military commentator Andrei Vasilyev writes: President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is arriving in Russia at the end of June on an official visit. Pundits are asking whether the two sides will sign new contracts for arms supplies, in particular, submarines. The United States is particularly interested. For some reason it thinks its opinion must be taken into account in the decision-making process.

* The Bush administration has cause for concern. Russia has entered the arms market so aggressively in recent years that many, including the US itself, have called American dominance into doubt.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States dominated the highly competitive market for conventional arms, military analyst Richard Grimmet said in December 2006. Now the situation has changed. Moscow is acting more aggressively. Many countries like Russian weapons, and not only regular buyers. Recently more armies have changed suppliers, finding that equipment from Russia is more advanced, more reliable and less expensive. Colombia's armed forces purchased 10 Mi-17 military transport helicopters, which not only perform better than American Black Hawks, but also cost $18 million less -- an important factor for a country which is not among the richest on the continent. Lastly, when in March 2005 Venezuela set aside $3.4 billion for 100,000 Russian-made AK-103 automatic rifles, 24 Su-30 MK2 fighter jets and 38 Mi-35 military helicopters, Washington's anger boiled over. Chavez then protested that Venezuela had no other option, since the U.S. had imposed an embargo on arms exports to the country under the pretext that Caracas was not cooperative enough with Washington in fighting terrorism. Meanwhile, Russia, unlike the US, supplies weapons to Venezuela without any political strings attached and respects the country's sovereignty.

* Nor did the United States' attempt to put pressure on Russia have any effect.

The first person to protest was US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who could not understand why Venezuela needed a hundred thousand Kalashnikov rifles. Then, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice voiced concerns over the contract during her visit to Moscow. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told her that Russian military cooperation with Venezuela did not violate international law. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov put an end to the matter by saying that "the contract was not liable for review ... 24 aircraft are not too many to protect a country as large as Venezuela ... The country is subject to no international sanctions, and there are no restrictions on fulfilling the contract."

The Venezuelan breakthrough has proved a contagious case of disobedience, one that could seriously harm American influence on the continent. When Argentina looked into possible purchases of Russian military equipment last year, its defense minister, Nilda Garre, said that Buenos Aires was not afraid that the US might react negatively. Arms purchases are the sovereign right of every country, she said, and should not cause any grudges. In 2005, Russian arms exports totaled $6.13 billion. The figure for the US was almost twice as high: $12.3 billion. And the US kept the 33% share of the market it had in 2004. But it is still concerned, because in previous years the US controlled up to 50% of the market. The last thing Washington wants is for Russia's role to increase.

For Russia, growing military exports provide a chance to develop the most advanced sector of its economy, which has in the past two years demonstrated its ability to serve as an engine for growth in other sectors. Gone, fortunately, are the days when the defense industry was advised to produce vacuum cleaners or broiling pans rather than develop new generations of weapons. It is now understood that modern bombers and interceptors can fetch more money. An example is the Irkut corporation, whose president, Oleg Demchenko, told a recent news conference at the Le Bourget air show that his company would supply 242 multi-role Su-30 MKI fighters worth a total of about $7 billion to foreign countries by 2014.

This in no way contradicts Russia's military doctrine. After all, people in all countries want a peaceful life ... but such a life requires that the borders be tight and secure. And when President Chavez says he intends to build a national air defense system "covering all the Caribbean" that can pick up targets 200 km away and destroy them 100 km from Venezuela, that it his right, if only because the project in no way threatens American security. It is anybody's guess whether the coming visit will spawn additional arms contracts. It is quite possible that there is no substance behind the ballyhoo raised by the press, and submarines will not come up in the negotiations. But whether or not they do is Caracas' business -- and Moscow's. But not Washington's -- it is the third wheel.


Venezuela Opposed to U.S. Missile Shield in Europe - Chavez

Venezuela supports Russia's opposition to the deployment of a U.S missile shield in Europe, President Hugo Chavez said Thursday. "The U.S. is planning to deploy its missile shield in Europe, and Russia is against it," Chavez said during his current visit to Russia, adding that Venezuela is in agreement with Moscow on the issue. The U.S. proposed in January deploying 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a missile defense radar in the Czech Republic as part of a proposed missile shield designed to counter alleged threats from "rogue states" such as Iran and North Korea. Russia, infuriated by the idea of a U.S. missile shield on the territories of its former ally states, has repeatedly condemned the plan, claiming that it could be a "destabilizing factor" and threaten Russia's national security. Moscow warned the West that "appropriate measures" would be taken in response.

"We support Russia [in its stance], we need Russia, which is becoming stronger day by day," he said, adding that Venezuela intended to continue cooperating closely with Moscow, including in the military sphere. Russia has repeatedly stated that it would actively participate in the modernization of the Venezuelan armed forces until 2013. In 2005-2006, Venezuela ordered weaponry from Russia worth $3.4 billion, including 24 Su-30MK2V Flanker fighters, Tor-M1 air defense missile systems, Mi-17B multi-role helicopters, Mi-35 Hind E attack helicopters and Mi-26 Halo heavy transport helicopters. The country also purchased 100,000 AK-103 Kalashnikov assault rifles from Russia in 2005 and sent its fighter and helicopter pilots for training in Russia.

Russian business daily Kommersant said in June that during his visit to Russia, Hugo Chavez could finalize a deal to purchase Russian diesel submarines for the Venezuelan Navy. The contract reportedly is for the supply of five Project 636 Kilo-class diesel submarines and four state-of-the-art Project 677 Amur submarines. The South American country has been vigorously pursuing the modernization of its armed forces to counter a possible U.S. blockade of its oil fields and to prepare for a direct military confrontation with Washington. "If the United States attacks Venezuela, we are ready to die defending our sacred land," Chavez said Thursday. He also said the world must change and adopt a multi-polar model of political development. "If that does not happen, then humankind might disappear. We cannot allow that to happen. Either we defeat American imperialism, or imperialism defeats us," the Venezuelan president said.


Chavez Slams the 'Empire's Designs'

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called for a strategic partnership with Belarus, saying his Belarusian counterpart is a ''brother-in-arms'' and lamenting the pressure he said the United States was putting on Minsk and Caracas. Chavez travelled to Belarus on Friday to meet with President Alexander Lukashenko after wrapping up two-days of meetings in Moscow, where Russia media speculated that Chavez was trying to arrange a new major purchase of Russian weaponry. In Minsk, Chavez told Lukashenko that economic and military ties between the two countries were developing, and he referred to the United States as ''the Empire.'' ''There are few nations in the world that are put under as strong pressure from the Empire as Belarus,'' Chavez said. He called on Lukashenko to ''develop relations in the form of a union and a strategic alliance. ''The enemy's forces are trying to turn the world into a unipolar world. We must overcome many obstacles from these forces. The Empire that has called us dictatorships itself wants to create a world dictatorship,'' he said. Chavez also joked about what he said were the many successes the two countries had seen since his last visit to Belarus in 2006.

''If in one year we were able to do so much, then what will be able to do in the 20 years that we will be in power?'' Chavez asked. ''Don't scare the Americans,'' Lukashenko responded, smiling. Earlier, during meetings in Moscow with Russian lawmakers, Chavez again suggested the United States had threatened Venezuela and was categorically opposed to Venezuela's buying submarines.

''They began raising a racket over there in the United States: 'What does Venezuela want with submarines?' Well, what are we going to do with submarines if we have 600,000 sq km of Venezuelan sea? (there's the) Caribbean and the Atlantic,'' Chavez said in comments broadcast by Venezuelan state television.

''The Empire is a threat. So it's possible that we may buy some submarines and some transport planes,'' he added. ''Therefore we are taking some measures to strengthen our air force, our air defense systems. We are working with Russia, with Belarus jointly wherever our possibilities allow us,'' he said.

Deals with Russia

Chavez arrived in Moscow on Wednesday amid widespread speculation that he wanted to sign a major arms deal, and President Vladimir Putin said the weapons trade was among the topics of talks late on Thursday when he met with Chavez. Earlier, an official with the Russian arms sales monopoly Rosoboronexport said the sides were in talks on the possible purchase of five Project 636 Kilo-class diesel submarines, according to a news report. ''We are conducting these talks, and I hope that this agreement is possible,'' Innokenty Naletov was quoted as saying by RIA-Novosti. He said there were also talks on supplies of military equipment for ground and air forces. Caracas already has purchased some $3 billion worth of arms from Russia, including 53 military helicopters, 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 24 SU-30 Sukhoi fighter jets and other weapons. The United States has voiced concern about Venezuela's military spending. In Moscow, Chavez told Russian business leaders that he expects development of a ''road map'' that will boost and diversify Russian-Venezuelan business ties - especially in the energy sector, including construction of a natural gas pipeline and oil refineries.

''We are very satisfied with the presence of Russian companies in our oil industry, and will do our best to develop this cooperation further,'' he said in an address to Russia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He said that at dinner on Thursday night with Putin, they agreed to create a fund to support joint projects. With Russia's help, Venezuela is ready to build four oil refineries and plans another 13, he said. He also invited Russian oil companies to help develop the Orinoco River basin, recognized as the world's single-largest known oil deposit, potentially holding 1.2 trillion barrels of extra-heavy crude. US giants Exxon Mobil Corp and ConocoPhillips refused to sign deals this week to keep pumping heavy oil under tougher terms in the basin, signalling their departure from the deposit as Chavez tightens state control over the oil industry. Other major oil companies Chevron Corp, Britain's BP PLC, France's Total SA and Norway's Statoil ASA accepted the terms, taking new minority stakes.

'Count Dracula'

Chavez, who has called US President George W Bush a devil, a donkey and a drunkard, again lambasted the US and its ''imperialist'' policies. ''US companies act like Count Dracula, like vampires bleeding our country dry,'' he said. Chavez urged Russian companies to invest in construction of an 8,000-km natural gas pipeline to Argentina, retrofitting Venezuela's dilapidated seaports, and developing its gold mining and chemical and industries. ''For the Americas, Venezuela is like Russia for Europe and Asia - a source of oil and natural gas,'' he said. Both Venezuela and Russia have revisited contracts signed in the 1990s with major oil companies, and slapped back-tax claims on private companies.


Chávez: Russian Submarines are to Defend the Revolution

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez told Friday a group of Russian deputies that his government is negotiating the purchase of five Russian submarines to "defend" the Venezuelan revolution, quoted news agency Ria-Novosti. Chávez explained to the congresspersons of Duma, the Russian Parliament Lower Chamber, that Venezuela has extensive territorial waters, Deputy Elena Drapeko told Ria-Novosti following a meeting behind closed doors. "The United States threatens us continuously. We need to defend our revolution," Chávez said, as quoted by the deputy of minority political Fair Russia party. Venezuela is holding talks with Russia to buy five diesel-powered submarines, reported Friday a spokesman of Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport, news agency Interfax quoted.bChávez made the remarks following a meeting the day before with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and another meeting with Russian businesspersons. During his talks with the businesspersons, which were open to the media, Chávez declared: "Some claim that I came here to buy weapons, as if it were my exclusive intention. This is not my priority. However, we are also working on this scientific-military cooperation, particularly after the US government resolved to disarm us."


Chavez Goes Shopping

Chavez Aiming AK-103 Assault Rifle

London’s defused car bombs, the defeated Senate immigration bill and Hugo Chavez’s sophisticated arms buying world-tour paint a complex and serious security challenge for the United States. In response to 9/11, the US took the terror fight to Central Asia rather than to wait for the next attack. Unfortunately, America has failed to take a similar approach over two dead-in-the-water policies: immigration and Venezuela. Last week, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez departed for a three nation arms buying tour. He negotiated a deal with Belarus, Europe’s last dictatorship, for a sophisticated long-range (125-200 miles) anti-aircraft system. Chavez visited Russia to check on his $3.4 billion investment in 24 Sukhoi SU-30 fighters, 35 MI-24 armored helicopters, 100,000 Russian-made AK-103 assault rifles and a license for an assault rifle factory.

MI-24 Armored Attack Helicopter

While in Russia, Chavez shopped for submarines and indicated he might be interested in a nuclear program. It’s not yet clear why he may buy five Project 636 Kilo-class diesel submarines and four state-of-the-art Project 677 Amur submarines; perhaps he believes the US might blockade or attack his country and submarines will be a deterrent. While in Russia, he also defended Iran’s right to have a nuclear program and stated Venezuela “might follow suit.” Chavez then left Russia to visit his close ally, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who claims Iran’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. What happened in London and Washington last week -- the foiled car bombings and defeated immigration bill -- is related to America’s Venezuela policy because each reflects a naïve “wait and see” approach jeopardizing our security.

SU-30 High Performance Multi-Role Combat Aircraft

The British have waited too long to reform their immigration policies. On Friday, London’s finest defused two car bombs designed for mass murder. Although yet to be confirmed, the would-be bombers may have sought to punctuate the suicide attack that struck London’s tube two years ago. Those homegrown bombers were sons of Muslim immigrants who although legally living in the UK had failed to assimilate and were followers of radical Islam. America faces a similar homegrown and illegal immigrant danger because it lacks a common sense policy. Fortunately, last week, concerned Americans flooded Senate offices demanding the immigration bill be junked and a serious debate happen before it’s too late. Hopefully, it’s still possible to fix US immigration policy before post-9/11 America suffers more violence at the hands of radicalized immigrants. However, it might be too late to reverse the damage Chavez has done which has serious economic and security implications for the US. More of the same “wait and see” approach regarding Venezuela would be profoundly stupid.

MI-28M State-of-the-Art Assault Helicopter

Chavez is a malignant narcissist, according to Dr. Jerrold Post, who profiled the Venezuelan for the US Air Force. Post suggests that Chavez, who was elected for his second term last December, is a masterful political gamesman and is “increasingly messianic.” These personality traits are likely to compel Chavez to declare himself president for life, Post states. Chavez has plotted a clear course for Venezuela and Latin America. He wants to minimize Washington’s influence in the world, to set-up a socialist republic in Venezuela and wants much the same for his neighbors. His heroes are “Che” Guevara and Fidel Castro, not known for their democratic roots. He has consolidated dictatorial control over his national assembly, the courts, and, on May 27, he closed the 53-year-old independent broadcast station, Radio Caracas Television, the only remaining opposition voice of reason.

Amur Class Diesel Powered Attack Submarine

His muscle comes from oil wealth and a compliant military. Venezuela is home to the Orinoco Belt, which holds the world’s largest reserves of heavy oil. Half of the annual oil revenue flows into Chavez’s government. Venezuela’s military has been bought off. It enjoys the best weapons high-priced oil affords and, beginning this week, loyal soldiers are expecting an up to 30 percent pay raise. Perhaps that’s why they are willingly saluting and sounding off with the slogan “Fatherland, Socialism, or Death.” Venezuela’s foreign policy focuses on blaming Latin America’s problems on the US. That’s why he relishes choosing allies that share his anti-Washington views such as North Korea and Iran, rogue nuclear powers, which earn Chavez’s special praises as does his mentor Fidel Castro of Cuba.

Chavez has established Latin American alliances with disaffected states which are financially vulnerable. He helped elect leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales in part by funding social projects like building schools. He has bought a lot of Argentina’s debt and invested in Uruguay. He leveraged his oil wealth to become a member of Mercosur, South America’s trading block. There have also been reports that he cooperates with terrorist groups like Colombia’s FARC and Iran’s Hezbollah. FARC funds it activities by drug sales. Not surprisingly, in 2005, the US government decertified Venezuela as an ally in the war on drugs alleging that Venezuela has become a key transit point for drugs leaving Columbia and two contributing factors to this assessment were “rampant corruption at the highest levels of law enforcement and a weak judicial system.”

What does a messianic, socialist, anti-US, oil wealthy elected Latin president mean to the US? He is a long-term economic and security liability. He sits on top of a large, critical and diminishing economic resource -- oil. He has learned from his membership in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries that markets are very sensitive and the US is vulnerable. Perhaps that’s why he has plans to set-up an organization of gas exporting countries in South America in order to expand his influence. It’s noteworthy that technical guidance for that project comes from Russia’s Gazprom. Also, his oil market plans might explain the need for a shiny new submarine fleet.

Seeding militant socialism in our backyard threatens US trade and security. Imagine, Chavez could create proxies to do what Iran has done to Israel and the U.S. in Iraq by fostering Hezbollah-like groups. Instead of advancing radical Islam, Chavez’s cadre could advance a form of anti-US socialism that seeks to disrupt US markets and security by easily infiltrating proxies across our porous border. Chavez is a serious threat. It’s past time the US government embrace a policy that counters him before he becomes a nuclear power with ballistic missiles and forms violent proxies. Mr. Maginnis is a retired Army lieutenant colonel, a national security and foreign affairs analyst for radio and television and a senior strategist with the U.S. Army.


Chávez Hints at Nuclear Future for Venezuela

President Hugo Chávez yesterday hinted that Venezuela could try to become a nuclear power, during a visit to Russia apparently timed to antagonise the White House. Mr Chávez defended Iran's right to pursue a nuclear programme and said it might be a good idea if Venezuela eventually did the same thing. Speaking before an audience of communists and other elements hostile to America, Mr Chávez said: "Iran has a right to have a peaceful atomic energy industry, as it is a sovereign country.

"The Brazilian president has declared his atomic energy initiatives, and Brazil has a right to do that as well. Who knows, maybe Venezuela will ultimately follow suit." Mr Chávez said he wanted a "multi-polar world in which "real freedom" was possible as opposed to "American freedom", which he characterised as the right to "threaten other nations and destroy cities". The Venezuelan leader is on a trip that also includes two other US antagonists, Belarus and Iran. His visit to Moscow comes hours before a meeting in the US between Vladimir Putin and George Bush. The two are holding informal talks on Sunday and Monday at the Bush family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, with deep divisions over the US's proposed missile shield in central Europe, the future of Kosovo and US concerns over Russia's resurgent authoritarianism under Mr Putin.

Kremlin officials yesterday said it was a coincidence that Mr Putin was holding talks with Mr Chávez tomorrow and Mr Bush on Sunday. But the newspaper Vedomosti suggested the visits were designed to demonstrate Russia's independence. Others suggested it was Mr Chávez who was making the running. "The timing wasn't initiated by Russia," said Viktor Semyonov, an economist at Moscow's Institute of Latin American Studies. "It all comes from Chávez. "It's more about money than politics; Chávez is supporting Russia's rapidly increasing economic presence in Venezuela." During his three-day visit to Russia, Mr Chávez is expected to buy more military hardware, including as many as five submarines. He will also tour a helicopter factory and hold talks with Mr Putin tomorrow in Rostov-on-Don.

Last year Mr Chávez spent $3bn (£1.5bn) on Russian arms. But yesterday he said: "We don't want war. We want peace. There were rumours we came here to buy weapons. This is not the priority of my visit ... The priority is cultural interaction and the exchange of ideas." But he also boasted of Venezuela's Russian Sukhoi jets: "When they appeared in the sky over Caracas during a parade on independence day two years ago, then we broke the fetters of dependence on the US." In Belarus, Mr Chávez may also discuss a new air defence system, after saying this week that Venezuela's current system was insufficient. He will then go to Tehran for talks aimed at further deepening ties with Iran.


In Russia Visit, Chavez Has Military on His Mind

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez wound up his visit to Russia on June 30 with a trip to a helicopter factory in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, accusing the United States of “aggression” and calling for a joint fight against “imperialism.” “Russia and Venezuela are brother nations ... we want a multipolar world free of hegemony and imperialism, but we cannot achieve that without this,” Chavez said, gesturing at different helicopters on display in the Rostvertol factory. “The U.S. empire has plans of aggression. It had already tried something of the sort a few years ago, when a U.S. aircraft carrier entered Venezuela’s territorial waters. It was practically an aggression,” he added. Chavez also praised Russia for “helping to break the blockade that the United States was preparing against Venezuela,” saying that he received “Moscow’s support” at the time.

During the trip to the factory, the Venezuelan leader eyed the state-of-the-art Mi-28N combat helicopter, called “night hunter,” Sergei Chemezov, chief of arms exporter Rosoboronexport, said. “He asked us why he was not shown it earlier. We answered that our defense ministry did not yet have it equipped, but now it is and we could offer it to him,” Chemezov said, as quoted by the Interfax news agency. Rumors of weapons sales were rampant throughout Chavez’s visit to Russia, which started June 28, but nothing concrete was ever formalized. “That is not the priority,” Chavez said, though Russia confirmed June 29 that talks were held over delivery of five diesel- and electricity-powered submarines.

Russia had already sold 24 Sukhoi fighter airplanes, 53 helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov guns to Venezuela, for a total of 3.5 billion dollars, the Rosoboronexport chief said. Chavez also praised “great progress” in “economic and energy” cooperation between the two oil-rich countries. In Rostov-on-Don, Chavez, also watched horse races, and was accompanied by Russian President Vladimir Putin and other chiefs of former Soviet republics.


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Dear reader,

Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

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