VENEZUELA’S DEFENSE POLICY: MILITARY-TECHNICAL COOPERATION, OIL FACTOR AND GEOPOLITICAL DIVIDENDS

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Abstract


The article describes the history of Venezuela's military-technical cooperation (MTC, arms trade) with foreign states in the period from the 1950s until now. There are three stages of the military-technical cooperation of Venezuela: pre-Chaves stage (before Hugo Chávez came to power), Chávez stage, post-Chávez stage (after Hugo Chávez's death during the reign of Nicholas Maduro). The nature and direction of the MTC, as well as the structure of suppliers of weapons and military equipment, as well as the factors that contributed to this orientation are described for each of these stages. The conclusion is made that the MTC of Venezuela depends on two key factors - the political attitudes of the current leadership and the market environment for Venezuela's key export commodity - oil. Taking into account the severe economic, social and financial crisis that hit Venezuela, China remained the only exporter continuing large shipments of military equipment to Venezuela. At the same time, a slight recovery in oil prices allows Russian exporters to expect the Venezuelan arms market to recover in the medium term. However, competition with Chinese exporters of military equipment will require granting Venezuela large-scale soft loans. At the same time, the Venezuelan debt market will remain high-risk because of political instability in the country, foreign policy pressures and volatility of hydrocarbon prices. If the government of Nicholas Maduro falls and the Bolivarian revolutionary project is scrapped, Caracas will be politically and militarily reoriented to the US and other Western countries with a high degree of probability. However, the inertia of Russian-Venezuelan military-technical cooperation will be a solid foundation for its continuation after the stabilization of the economic situation in the country, regardless of the foreign policy orientation of the future governments of Venezuela. In any case, the Russian political leadership and the management of the military equipment exporters, working together with the expert community and academic science, must constantly carefully assess the economic and political risks of continuing the Russian-Venezuelan military-technical cooperation, on the one hand, and its potential commercial and geopolitical dividends, on the other.


About the authors

Tatiana Alexandrovna Alekseeva

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russian Federation

Author for correspondence.
Email: ataleks@mail.ru

Dr. of Philosophy, Professor, Head of Department of Political Theory, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Russian Federation

Sergey Stepanovich Goreslavsky

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russian Federation

Email: rv2660@roe.ru

Candidate of Department of Political Theory, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Russian Federation, Deputy General Director of Rosoboronexport

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