Below is our translation of a commentary from Ria Novosti.
It’s a fair question: can Russia perform the same kind of miracle in Venezuela as it did in Syria, but from an economic rather than a military standpoint? And the problem looks daunting. Maduro is reputed to be a nice guy but he does not seem amenable to change. And, if we can believe the pope, he does not take advice. Putin may have a sow’s ear here. Can he make a silk purse out of it?
Perhaps if Maduro gets scared enough, a compromise can be reached. This commentator seems to think that, in addition to the sanctions, his primitive “populist socialism” may be getting in the way of recovery.
Venezuela is becoming an "economic Syria"
The contours of the Russian-American - yes, quite truly - confrontations in Venezuela are becoming clearer.
Donald Trump warned the Venezuelan military about the possibility of "losing everything" if they did not stop supporting President Maduro. An adviser to the American president, John Bolton, happily announced that another high-ranking official, the country's military attaché to the UN, had taken the side of the “interim president” Juan Guaidó, who was self-proclaimed and recognized by the United States.
True, it seems the Americans are still not ready for direct military intervention, relying on more complex methods like sanctions pressure and provocations disguised as humanitarian convoys.
However, despite the increasingly murky atmosphere, the Venezuelan authorities are surprisingly cheerful. And it seems that their confidence is not least connected with Moscow.
Here are just some of the official news and unofficial insights of recent times.
- The Russian Foreign Ministry warned the US authorities against military intervention in Venezuela and offered Caracas assistance with their internal political settlement.
- According to the Russian Ministry of Finance, Moscow has offered Caracas an informal plan for the restoration of the national economy. A group of specialists was also sent there, including officials of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Central Bank, the Federal Tax Service and the Treasury, to advise the authorities on economic recovery measures.
- According to Reuters, the bulk of the fuel supply to the country (domestic refineries in the extremely oil-rich Venezuela are in a disastrous state) comes from Russia (specifically from Rosneft), and with very high risk premiums for suppliers.
- According to Bloomberg, the Venezuelan government has instructed the leaders of about 50 local companies to open bank accounts in Russia, Turkey, China and India and begin to develop contacts with suppliers in these countries to circumvent American sanctions.
To sum up these and numerous other news items, the conclusion is clear: Venezuela is becoming for Russia "an economic Syria."
Three and a half years ago, Moscow launched a military operation in the Arab Republic, and based on the results of this campaign, without exaggeration, it can be called epochal. Very limited military forces, pinpoint measures and – let’s say it forthrightly - with very moderate resources (including simply financial ones), Russia has achieved an amazing effect.
Moscow not only changed the course of military operations and saved Syrian statehood from collapse, but through its military-political and diplomatic efforts, it also launched a process of real political settlement in the country and a geopolitical transformation of the entire region.
Moscow showed the world what it is capable of and what can be counted on by countries that have come under the pressure of Western military and political pressure if they turn to Russia for help. And they don’t ask for a lot for “services” - mutually beneficial cooperation (Moscow no longer deals with charity), contracts and concessions. And no ideological and political interference in the internal affairs of the country.
True, it should be noted that, although the achievements of the Russian armed forces and diplomacy in this case cannot be overestimated, for many Moscow’s success in Syria was not something supernatural. The fact is that the Russian army and diplomacy have always maintained a fairly high reputation. “Russians know how to fight” and “Russia knows how to work in the East” are basic and very common ideas.
The Venezuelan case is a different matter. At the forefront are economic problems, generated both by many years of domestic policy according to the formulas of the most vulgar populist socialism, and by the economic pressure of the West.
However, it seems that Moscow has set an unprecedented, unbelievable goal: to save the Venezuelan economy, to help it return to normal operation - and to contribute to a political settlement contrary to the US goal of overthrowing the country's authorities. And all this is in the grip of the most severe sanctions choking the Bolivarian Republic.
Russia in the eyes of the world - and in its own - has never been a guru in the field of economic policy. This role for many decades - and even centuries - has been reliably associated with the West and its institutions like the IMF. The fact that we are talking about Latin America, a region where the possibilities and influence of Moscow have never been weighty, gives the situation a fantasy-like aura.
Nevertheless, everything persistently indicates that Russia has decided to act in this direction.
Whether it will succeed is an open question. Obviously, in the Venezuelan situation there are so many risks and difficulties that the chances of success seem slim.
But after all, three years ago, the same thing was said about the military operation in Syria.
Our other reports and commentaries on Venezuela:
China can save Venezuela if the US allows it
Sanctions on Venezuela boomerang on the US
US led economic war, not socialism, is tearing Venezuela apart
The other side of the Venezuela story
Experts analyse Venezuela situation