This Can't Be Good
Russian navy ships head to maneuvers in Venezuela
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press Writer Monday, September 22, 2008 (09-22) 04:38 PDT MOSCOW, Russia (AP) --
A Russian navy squadron set off for Venezuela Monday, an official said, in a deployment of Russian military power to the Western Hemisphere unprecedented since the Cold War.
The Kremlin recently has moved to intensify contacts with Venezuela, Cuba and other Latin American nations amid increasingly strained relations with Washington after last month's war between Russia and Georgia. During the Cold War, Latin America became an ideological battleground between the Soviet Union and the United States.
Russian navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said the nuclear-powered Peter the Great cruiser accompanied by three other ships sailed from the Northern Fleet's base of Severomorsk on Monday. The ships will cover about 15,000 nautical miles to conduct joint maneuvers with the Venezuelan navy, he told The Associated Press.
The deployment follows a weeklong visit to Venezuela by a pair of Russian strategic bombers and comes as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez — an unbridled critic of U.S. foreign policy who has close ties with Moscow — plans to visit Moscow this week. It will be Chavez's second trip to Russia in about two months.
The intensifying contacts with Venezuela appear to be a response to the U.S. dispatch of warships to deliver aid to Georgia which angered the Kremlin.
Chavez said in an interview with Russian television broadcast Sunday that Latin America needs a strong friendship with Russia to help reduce U.S. influence and keep peace in the region. In separate comments on his Sunday TV and radio program, he joked that he will be making his international tour to Russia and other countries this week aboard the "super-bombers that Medvedev loaned me," a reference to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. "Gentlemen of the CIA, to be clear, I'm joking," Chavez said with a laugh.
Chavez has repeatedly warned that the U.S. Navy poses a threat to Venezuela.
Russia has signed weapons contracts worth more than $4 billion with Venezuela since 2005 to supply fighter jets, helicopters, and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles. Chavez's government is in talks to buy Russian submarines, air defense systems and armored vehicles and more Sukhoi fighter jets.
Russian and Venezuelan leaders also have talked about boosting cooperation in the energy sphere to create what Chavez has called "a new strategic energy alliance."
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who visited Venezuela last week, announced that five of Russia's biggest oil companies are looking to form a consortium to increase Latin American operations and to build a $6.5 billion refinery to process Venezuela's tar-like heavy crude. Such an investment could help Venezuela, the world's ninth-biggest oil producer, wean itself from the U.S. refineries on which it depends to process much of its crude.
Sechin warned the United States that it should not view Latin America as its own backyard. "It would be wrong to talk about one nation having exclusive rights to this zone," he said in an interview broadcast Sunday.
Associated Press Writer Ian James in Caracas contributed to this report.
Well with all this talk of Whether McCain and Palin are willing to go to war with Russia if necessary to protect Georgia, What did they think was going to happen??
Personally, I think NATO expansion is getting out of control. In a true world conflict, we would have our hands full with defending Europe, and to think we could hold Turkey and now Georgia when surrounded by Irag, Iran, and Russia is ludicrous.
I think too many look at NATO as a political power now, not a military alliance that must be prepared to go to all-out war tommorrow (including a possible nuclear confrontation) if one of our partners is attacked. While I sympathize with thier issues, I don't see what they can bring to the table that makes the tactical risks worth it at this point in time.
And don't even get me started on the Mediterranean Dialogue... :mad:
Thats ok Marty. A few weeks ago when Russia announced that it was "unhappy" with the number of NATO ships floating around in the Black Sea, I actually had to go talk with the Naval Attache, because the only NATO navy I could think of that would be sailing that part of the world was Turkey. Turns out there were French, American and I think he said German as well as Turk ships in the area. I think there Italy might have been in there too, but I can't recall correctly now.
And maybe I have been "down south" a little too long. When I first read your post, I wondered, "Why would anyone be interested in defending Georgia?" Then I realized you were talking about the SOVIET state of Georgia...... ;) :p