Cutting their losses?
In a serious blow to the shaky Maduro Socialist regime, Russian defence contractor Rostec is exiting the country.
Here’s what was reported by the Wall Street Journal:
“Russian state defense contractor Rostec, which has trained Venezuelan troops and advised on securing arms contracts, has cut its staff in Venezuela to just a few dozen, from about 1,000 at the height of cooperation between Moscow and Caracas several years ago, said a person close to the Russian defense ministry.”
Russia has been a key source of weapons and training for Venezuela’s military. And the military is the only thing keeping Maduro in power.
Maduro’s popular support has collapsed in tandem with the collapse of Venezuela’s economy. Despite having the world’s largest oil reserves, the socialist policies of Maduro (and the ruinous economic legacy of Hugo Chavez), has left the Venezuelan economy in total ruins. Hyperinflation has set in, there are shortages of almost everything, kidnapping and murder rates have surged, and the average person has lost over 20 pounds due to widespread starvation and malnutrition.
All that is keeping Maduro in power is the fact that his socialist regime has directed much of the remaining wealth and food towards members of the Venezuelan Armed Forces, combined with the fact that Russia and China have been supporters of Venezuela. In particular, Russia’s military support has been a key lifeline for Maduro.
But now, the continued collapse of Venezuela’s economy is cutting into Maduro’s ability to finance the military:
“Rostec’s withdrawal of permanent and temporary employees is a major setback for Maduro, who has frequently touted assistance support from Russia and China as a sign that other global powers are willing to assist him in his bitter standoff against the U.S. Russian military support has been central to Maduro’s pledge to defend Venezuela from any foreign invasion.”
A key issue appears to be that Venezuela is simply unable to pay Rostec for the services and support being provided.
And if Venezuela can’t count on external military support because of being unable to pay for it, that means the economic situation is deteriorating even more rapidly than many thought. In time, that will make Maduro unable to pay the military at the level needed to maintain support.
If Maduro loses the support of the military – which has already been offered wide-spread amnesty by Juan Guaido (recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate President by over 50 countries including Canada, the US, and Brazil) then Guaido will have a greater opportunity to gain power, and Maduro could face the loss of his life – though would likely flee to Cuba ahead of time.
Russia may be cutting their losses in Venezuela – a sign that they see Maduro’s position as untenable in the medium to long-term.
US President Donald Trump has Tweeted that Russia informed the US on the withdrawal of personnel:
“Russia has informed us that they have removed most of their people from Venezuela.”
Russia has informed us that they have removed most of their people from Venezuela.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2019
So, while Maduro has not yet lost power, and is holding on for dear life, the loss of Russian support could be yet another crippling blow to his prospects.
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