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25 Sep, 2008 10:06

Moscow and Caracas bask in close ties

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez arrives in the Russian capital on Thursday with relations between the countries at their best in years. Moscow has recently sent warships to South America to take part in joint military

The Venezuelan leader’s invitation to host both Russian bombers and the Russian Navy came a month before the U.S. ordered its warships to enter the Black Sea.

Moscow and Caracas say they had an earlier agreement to conduct military exercises and deny any connection between the presence of the U.S. Navy near Russian borders and the Russian fleet heading to America’s backyard.

The nuclear-powered Peter the Great cruiser, an anti-submarine ship and 2 support vessels are now preparing to cross the Atlantic, but Russian Navy officials say the trip has no political implications.

“We are not going to demonstrate any aggressive intentions. The fleet has always been and will remain a deterrent,” insists Russian Navy spokesperson Igor Dygalo.

The ships started off just days after two Russian TU-160 strategic long-range bombers, carrying no nuclear weapons, returned to their home base in Russia after a week of maneuvers in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez said he was satisfied with the flight.

“Russian planes flew across the Atlantic and Caribbean. I do not know when they will return, but any time they want to return – they can do that. Venezuela is their home. Russia plays a role of a true friend and ally,” said Venezuelan president.

To read more about Russia's Navy in Venezuela, please follow the link
During his current visit, Hugo Chavez will discuss energy, scientific and technological cooperation.

Previous such meetings have already brought tangible results and today leading Russian companies are now building their presence in the Venezuelan market.

In turn, Venezuela has already purchased billions of dollars worth of arms from Russia, including military helicopters and Kalashnikov rifles.