MOSCOW, January 9 (RIA Novosti) – Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez’s failing health and possible departure from power are unlikely to pose an immediate threat to Russia’s multi-billion-dollar arms and energy contracts with his country, despite his direct personal support for the deals, Russian analysts told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.
Chavez, who is continuing his fight against cancer and hasn’t appeared in public in about a month, asked parliament yesterday to postpone his January 10 inauguration, citing doctors’ recommendations.
Russia has intensified cooperation with Venezuela since Chavez came to power in 1999, signing multi-billion-dollar contracts with the Latin American country in the arms, oil and gas spheres. The military-technology contracts, often short on publicly available details, have been piling up in recent years. Between 2005 and 2007, Caracas signed $4 billion worth of deals with Russia to buy Sukhoi fighter jets, combat helicopters and small arms. Chavez’s government also secured a $2.2-billion loan in 2010 to purchase Russian T-72 tanks and S-300 air defense systems.
Energy deals have also enhanced bilateral ties. Major joint ventures involve development of the Junin 6 and Junin 3 oilfields on the Orinoco River. Junin 6 is being developed by Russia's National Oil Consortium, which includes GazpromNeft, Lukoil, Rosneft, Surgutneftegaz and TNK-BP, together with Venezuela's state oil and gas company, PDVSA. Junin 3 is being developed by Lukoil...