Russian-Venezuelan Defense Cooperation
Author: Sergey Denisentsev, Senior Researcher | Centre for Analysis of Strategy and Technology, Moscow
In this paper, Russian defense industry and arms trade expert Sergey Denisentsev looks at the history, current state, and outlook for defense cooperation between Russia and Venezuela. He notes that before the arrival of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela was not among the Russian defense customers. The attempted coup in 2002 and the ensuing restrictions on sales of US weaponry to the country opened up the Venezuelan defense market to Russian suppliers. This paper reviews the Russian arms transfers that enabled a major modernization of the Venezuelan arms forces under Chávez. Those transfers, however, came to an almost complete halt after Chavez died and an economic crisis broke out in Venezuela in 2013. The latest bout of political crisis that began in January 2019 has given a new lease of life to Russian-Venezuelan defense cooperation. That cooperation no longer involves large weapons contracts, but Russia is providing technical support and advice to the Venezuelan military and security services.