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Russia welcomed Nicolas Maduro’s victory at the early presidential elections in Venezuela. Although, sources in the Russian diplomatic circles stated that the bilateral relations would not have sustained drastic changes, even if oppositionist Enrique Capriles had won, and it will be much more comfortable to work with the successor of Hugo Chavez’s policy, the Kommersant daily reported with confidence.
It looks like Moscow is confident of Nicolas Maduro’s victory, the newspaper reported. In late March President Vladimir Putin invited Hugo Chavez’s successor for a second summit of the members in the Forum of Gas Exporting Countries (a summit will be held in Moscow on July 1–2). Maduro took this proposal with pleasure. “I will be there,” he wrote in his Twitter blog.
On Monday, the Kremlin press service reported that the two presidents had a telephone conversation and they assured each other that the countries will continue the policy of strategic partnership. The presidents “discussed several practical issues of cooperation.”
The experts are confident that in the near future Nicolas Maduro will continue to pursue the policy, which Hugo Chavez had taken up, the newspaper noted. Venezuela will hardly stop the anti-American rhetoric, which was characteristic of the late previous country’s leader. Actually the relations between Caracas and Washington are not so bad. Russian Ambassador in Venezuela Vladimir Zayemsky told the Kommersant daily that his U.S. counterpart said to him the United States still buys at least 60% of Venezuelan oil and 70–80% of imports in Venezuela is delivered from the U.S. despite all U.S rhetoric.
The experts noted that nothing threatens privileged relations between Russia and Venezuela. One of the explanations of this fact is that during Chavez’s rule the two countries established close economic relations, primarily in the oil producing sphere. Now the Russian National Oil Consortium produces only 1,800 barrels of oil daily at the Venezuelan oil deposit Hunin-6. But in the near future the consortium is planning to bring this figure to 50,000 barrels of oil daily. This will be possible, if the problem of oil transportation is solved. Now the oil is transported in the automotive tanks, but the construction of a pipeline from the oil production fields to the oil terminals is planned. According to the forecasts of the Russian National Oil Consortium, the oil production volume will reach 200,000 barrels of oil daily by 2019.
The future of military-technical cooperation between Moscow and Caracas is less clear so far. Enrique Capriles stated repeatedly that the authorities should use the budget resources in the more economical way and in particular they should abandon “senseless” purchases of Russian weapons. Nicolas Maduro did not make a direct statement on the issue, but taking into account a complicated economic situation in Venezuela, he will have to refuse from everything that can be taken as excessive. The maximum conditions for which Moscow can hope in this situation is the service maintenance of the military hardware supplied to Venezuela before.