Russia is playing a high-stakes game in the mounting crisis in Venezuela, where socialist President Nicolas Maduro has been mortgaging part of the country’s oil resources in exchange for financial and military support from Moscow.
Latin America is far from Russia, and Venezuela is impoverished, surrounded by hostile neighbors and squarely in the crosshairs of the Trump administration. But for a variety of reasons, the government of President Vladimir Putin sees in Caracas an ally worth cultivating.
The Kremlin has managed to maintain a decades-long relationship with Cuba’s communist regime, whose intelligence services have worked closely with Russian advisers to make inroads into Venezuela’s military and its reserve-rich oil sector. The U.S. estimates Russia’s total investment in Venezuela to be $30 billion.