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Venezuela Interested In Joining BRICS

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during talks with his Venezuelan counterpart Yvan Gil Pinto during the BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meeting this week, that Russia welcomes Venezuela’s interest in BRICS and will contribute to the strengthening of relations as the BRICS 2024 chair. 

Lavrov stated that “We are glad to see you and your delegation in Nizhny Novgorod. We support Venezuela’s interest in BRICS. As the chair, we will contribute to the strengthening of relations. We note that BRICS and Venezuela are already effectively cooperating in the energy and medical spheres.”

“We are creating financial and logistical mechanisms that are resistant to external influence and ensure the independence of our relations, progressive development and protection from illegitimate actions. We value our international interactions where, in particular, within the UN framework, cooperation is actively developing on the basis of the Venezuelan initiative to create a group of friends in defense of the UN Charter,” the Russian foreign minister added.

Russia-Venezuela Energy Cooperation

Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, however, its crude oil is very heavy by international standards, and as a result much of it must be processed by specialized domestic and international refineries. Russia has the capabilities to do so while the United States is embroiled in political and sanctions disputes with Caracas.

Russian companies are ready to develop oil production and refining in Venezuela via joint ventures, Venezuela’s State Owned PDVSA CEO Asdrubal Chavez said following a meeting of the Russian-Venezuelan Intergovernmental Commission in December 2022, with Chavez noting the importance of cooperation in all areas of the hydrocarbon value chain. “We have agreed to set up a respective working group to develop five joint ventures between Russia and Venezuela. So, I would like to thank Russia for the presence of these five new companies, which have expressed readiness to support us in the further resumption of oil production and processing. Public companies are interested in the entire range of oil production and refining operations.” Chavez said.

Venezuela is a member of OPEC, the global cartel that fixes energy prices and coordinates production.

Russia – Venezuela Trade Summary

Venezuela, along with Iran is significant due to its energy reserves. It is strategically important to note that Russia and Venezuela have engaged in satellite cooperation, an important ongoing issue that concerns global navigation but also one that can be put to military purposes – an issue Washington will no doubt be concerned about.

Given that this also includes existing cooperation with the US-backed GPS and the EU Galileo system as well as China’s Beidou, it is not implausible that future US / EU conflicts with Russia and China divide Global navigation into two separate units.

The financing issue is also a step forward to solving the trade sanctions that both suffer from and are bringing forward a mechanism to permit bilateral trade without having to use US dollars or the SWIFT banking network. Future bilateral currency swaps and the imposition of the Ruble as a lead currency may well manifest themselves shortly.

China’s position as concerns Venezuela may also be part of this. The MIR card issue is a stepping stone to a wider remit in terms of debit card use, and may later when technologies arrive within Russia’s SWIFT alternative, the SPFS system, be rolled out to also facilitate trade, although currently this move indicates a growing move to developing Russian tourism to Latin America.

Russia introduced direct flights between Moscow and Cuba in 2022. However, the main prize for Russia is securing Venezuelan oil reserves and refining these. Those will be heading for friendly LatAm, Asian, and African markets rather than the United States or Europe. Russia’s 2023 Foreign Policy Concept, which came into immediate effect in April last year makes specific reference to the Latin American and Caribbean regions as areas to be targeted.

That stance appears to be gaining ground, at least with Caracas. President Nicolas Maduro announced in mid-February 2024 that Venezuela aims to become a full-fledged member of the BRICS group “soon” stating that the emergence of a new multipolar world is “irreversible.”

Maduro has expressed hope that his country can secure BRICS membership at the group’s next summit in Russia in October this year. If confirmed, Venezuela will become a full BRICS member from January 2025.

Venezuela’s 2023 GDP growth rate was 5%. It has trade agreements with numerous Latin American and Caribbean nations.

Further Reading

Russia – Latin America 2024 Trade & Development 

Our 2024 Russia’s Pivot To Asia Guide features comprehensive discussions on Russia’s relationship with numerous LatAm nations, including Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Venezuela. We also comprehensively discuss the development of the BRICS. It is a complimentary download and can be accessed in English here and Russian here.  

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