“Go ahead and squeal, Yanquis,”... Words uttered by Hugo Chavez today as he revealed that later on this year a contingent of Russian Navy warships will conduct war games in Venezuelan waters. Earlier, referring to the US naval presence in the Black Sea, Medvedev had said: "I wonder how they would like it if we sent humanitarian assistance using our navy to countries of the Caribbean that have suffered from the recent hurricanes."
Russia to Base Nuclear Warship and Anti-Submarine Aircraft in Venezuela
Russia said on Monday it would send a heavily-armed nuclear-powered cruiser to the Caribbean for a joint naval exercise with Venezuela, its first major manoeuvres on the United States' doorstep since the Cold War. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Monday that the naval mission to Venezuela would include the nuclear-powered battle cruiser "Peter the Great", one of the world's largest combat battleships.
"Before the end of the year, as part of a long-distance expedition, we plan a visit to Venezuela by a Russian navy flotilla... and the temporary basing of anti-submarine aircraft of the Russian Navy at an airport in Venezuela," spokesman Andrei Nesterenko was quoted by Reuters as saying. The Venezuelan navy announced Saturday that four Russian ships with almost 1,000 sailors aboard would carry out joint manoeuvres with the navy of Caracas leftist government in Venezuelan territorial waters on November 10-14. The four ships will include the Peter the Great nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser and the Admiral Chabanenko anti-submarine ship, Nesterenko told a briefing in Moscow. The visit has been planned for a long time and "is not in any way connected to the current situation in the Caucasus," said Nesterenko, referring to tensions over Russia’s incursion into U.S. ally Georgia in August. "It is not aimed at any third country," he said. Medvedev accused the United States of rearming Georgia under the guise of humanitarian aid, after Friday’s arrival of the U.S. Navy's Mediterranean flagship at a key Georgian port close to where Russian troops are patrolling. "I wonder how they would like it if we sent humanitarian assistance using our navy to countries of the Caribbean that have suffered from the recent hurricanes," Medvedev said.
The 'Peter the Great' is large and heavily armed with both surface-to-surface and around 500 surface-to-air missiles, Jon Rosamund, the editor of Jane's Navy International, a specialist publication told Reuters. "On paper it's an immensely powerful ship," he said. "We are not really sure if this is a show of force or if it poses a viable operational capability at this stage," Rosamund said. "These ships have far more capability, on paper, than the U.S. destroyers that went to the Black Sea, but it's difficult to compare capacity," Rosamund said. "The Russian navy is keen to be seen on the world stage." Admiral Eduard Baltin, former commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, said the Caribbean manoeuvres meant "Russia is returning to the stage in its power and international relations which it, regrettably, lost at the end of last century". "No one loves the weak," Baltin was quoted as saying by Russia's Interfax news agency. Leftist-populist President Hugo Chavez, a harsh critic of the U.S. government, has forged closer ties with Moscow including arms supply and production deals. Chavez has supported Moscow in the Georgia conflict, and stressed that "Russia is rising up again as a global power." Russia’s defense ministry in July denied a report it was considering basing bomber aircraft in Cuba in retaliation for U.S. missile defense plans in Eastern Europe. "We regard these sorts of reports from anonymous sources as disinformation," RIA Novosti quoted defense ministry spokesman Ilshat Baichurin as saying.
Russia and Venezuela Confirm Joint Military Exercises
Chafing at the reactivation in recent weeks of an American naval fleet in Latin American waters, President Hugo Chávez said Sunday that Venezuela could engage in naval exercises with Russian ships in the Caribbean before the end of the year. Mr. Chávez’s words echoed news reports here over the weekend that four warships with as many as 1,000 sailors from Russia’s Pacific Fleet could take part in a training exercise in November off Venezuela’s coast. Salvatore Cammarata Bastidas, Venezuela’s chief of naval intelligence, said the exercises were aimed at strengthening military ties. Russian officials confirmed on Monday that Russian naval ships, including the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser Peter the Great and the anti-submarine ship Admiral Chabanenko, will dock in Venezuela by the end of the year. The ships will engage in joint exercises with Venezuelan warships in the Atlantic Ocean, Russian Navy Assistant Commander Capt. Igor Dygalo told the Interfax news agency on Monday. “The ships will have joint maneuvers, practice search and rescue at sea and check communications," he said. Anatoly Nesterenko, a Russian foreign ministry spokesman, said, “The temporary deployment of Russian Navy anti-sub aircraft at an air field in that country is also planned.” He said the operations were not a reaction to the tensions between the United States and Russia over Georgia. “This is a planned operation, and is not in any way connected to current political events, nor to the situation in the Caucasus,” he said. “These exercises will in no way be directed against the interests of a third country.” But Mr. Chávez made clear he had the United States in mind when discussing the joint naval operations. “Go ahead and squeal, Yanquis,” Mr. Chávez said in a mocking tone on his Sunday television program, adding, “Russia’s naval fleet is welcome here.” But Mr. Chávez qualified his remarks by saying that planning for the maneuvers was in the “preparation phase,” pending decisions by the Russian government. After the war in Georgia, the Kremlin has expressed increasing frustration over the presence of NATO and American ships in the Black Sea. On Saturday, after an American ship delivered humanitarian aid to Georgia at its Black Sea port of Poti, President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia suggested that the United States was encroaching on Russia’s sphere of influence. A few days before the conflict in Georgia, Russia’s prime minister, Vladimir V. Putin, announced that Russia would bolster its relations with Cuba, Venezuela’s top ally. But Russian officials at the same time denied that they would deploy military hardware there. Venezuela has gone out of its way to strengthen relations with Russia. In addition to welcoming Russian investment, Mr. Chávez has emerged as a major buyer of Russian arms. Last month, he also backed Russia’s recognition of two Georgian breakaway regions. Mr. Chávez has framed his warming to Russia within his government’s concern over the reactivation in July of the United States Navy’s Fourth Fleet in Latin American waters after a five-decade lull.
Venezuela, Russia to Hold Joint Naval Drills in Late November
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has announced the timeframe for the upcoming Russian-Venezuelan naval exercise, arranged in line with Russia's plans to extend its presence in international waters. "Venezuela will hold joint naval exercises in the Caribbean in late November-early December," Chavez said Sunday on his weekly TV show, "Hello, President." According to earlier media reports, Venezuelan navy officials said four Russian warships and a number of Venezuelan missile frigates, patrol boats, submarines and aircraft would take part in the joint drills on November 10-14. The president dismissed criticism of the joint exercise with Russia by comparing it with the Southern Cross naval war games involving the Dutch, French and Brazilian navies, which are scheduled for November 2-14. "Russia is a strategic partner of Venezuela and we will do everything possible ... to ensure the success of the upcoming exercise," Chavez said. Chavez, an outspoken critic of Washington since coming to power nine years ago, has focused his foreign policy on bolstering ties with countries outside the U.S. sphere of influence. In 2005-2006, Venezuela bought more than 50 combat helicopters, 24 Su-30MK2 fighters, 12 Tor-M1 air defense missile systems and 100,000 AK-103 rifles from Russia. Current arms contracts are worth about $4 billion, according to various sources. Future deliveries may include Amur-class diesel submarines, Il-76MD military transport planes, Il-78 aerial tankers and air-defense missile systems.
In related news:
Russia, Kazakhstan maneuver to repel “South Aggression”
An active phase of Russian-Kazakhstani military exercises Center-2008 have completed in Chelyabinsk region. Kommersant Daily describes the exercises' scenario as reminding of the recent events in South Ossetia. The military, however, affirm that it was developed a year ago. The maneuvers are a second large-scale military exercizes at the training range. Last year, joint maneuvers of the SCO called Peace Mission-2007 were held there. That time, however, military of six countries were working on joint action against international terrorists. According the exercises' scenario, a fictitious state bordering Kazakhstan launches aggression aiming to annex regions rich with mineral resources. The adversary troops (the “South” force) intrudes into territory of Kazakhstan to a depth of up to 60 kilometers. Joint forces of Russia (the “Ural” force) and Kazakhstan (the “North” force) start reconnaissance. When adversary headquarters and concentrations of combat equipment are located, an air strike is performed on them by aviation and SP weapons. After adversary is disorganized and its combat equipment is partially destroyed, the joint armed forces perform a counterattack and force “South” to retreat. Over 500 units of military and special equipment were used in the maneuvers: T-72 tanks, armored combat vehicles, multiple launch rocket systems “Grad”, SP howitzers Gvozdika and Nona. Exercise air strikes were performed by Su-24 tactical bombers, Su-27 and MiG-31 fighter jets, as well as Mi-24 and Mi8 helicopters. Airborne infantry company and assault combat squadron of air assault forces (supported by three combat vehicles) were delivered by two Il76 military transport planes. About 2,000 military of Russia and about 700 of Kazakhstan took part in the exercises.