The Russian government has denied that it sent out mercenaries to protect Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro after an opposition leader with the support of the United States declared himself president of the country.
Russia has thrown its diplomatic weight behind Maduro In recent days, he has criticized the US for violating Venezuela's sovereignty by supporting the leadership claim of opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
Earlier this week, reports were released that tens or hundreds of Russian mercenaries active in Ukraine and Syria had been sent to protect Maduro from a possible coup attempt. The move indicates that Russia was prepared to increase investment to protect its investment in its closest allies in the Western Hemisphere.
In a political news show on Sunday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied that Russia had sent military personnel into the country. "Fear has a hundred eyes," he said. However, he denied any direct refusal because private military entrepreneurs do not work for the government.
Russia has spent billions to increase its influence in Venezuela, and there is concern that a regime change could ruin these investments.
The country has invested an estimated $ 17 billion in cash in the South American country, much of it in loans. In 2017, Russia agreed to restructure Venezuela's debt of more than $ 3 billion. The Russian oil company Rosneft has lent a similar amount to PDVSA, the state oil company. Rosneft also holds shares in oil production in Venezuela.
Another $ 3 billion loan from Russia was used to buy weapons, including assault rifles, fighter jets and helicopters. Venezuela became the largest operator of Russian military equipment in South America. Kalashnikov, the manufacturer of the AK47, is building a factory in Venezuela, whose opening has been delayed over and over again.
Estimates how much Russia has invested in Venezuela. David Rozental, a researcher at the Latin American Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, estimated the amount to be more than $ 20 billion.
Vladimir Davydov, the academic director at the Institute for Latin America, said that Russia considers Venezuela to be its bridgehead in Latin America and the country's large oil reserves made it a priority for Russia. "What role will Russia play in controlling strategic resources? This is what is decided in Venezuela, "said Davydov.
The leader of the prosecution was Igor Sechin, the former military translator who now runs the Russian oil company Rosneft, a fluent Spanish spokesman who met regularly with Maduro and increased Rosneft's investment in Venezuelan oil production and its state-owned producers.
"[Sechin] knows Latin America pretty well, it's very influential," Davydov said. "He wants to maintain Rosneft's position in Venezuela, and there are several Ways to do that. "
For the moment, Davydov and his colleagues said they had not expected Russia to meddle militarily in the Venezuelan crisis, even in the case of an American-backed intervention.
It would, in the first place to seek a role as mediator to project Russian power and protect its investments.
Even in the Fa Russia will not succeed in losing everything "We have not signed any contracts with Chávez or Maduro (19459009), we have signed contracts with the Venezuelan Parliament," Rozental said during a radio broadcast on Vesti FM this week. "In that sense, I do not believe that Russian assets are seriously threatened."