The Russians are coming — Caribbean Crisis redux?

September 9, 2008

The 19,000-ton nuclear-powered cruiser “Peter the Great” is seen in this June 2003 file photo. Russia said on Monday it would send a heavily-armed nuclear-powered cruiser to the Caribbean for a joint naval exercise with Venezuela, its first major manoeuvres on the United States’ doorstep since the Cold War. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Monday that the naval mission to Venezuela would include the nuclear-powered battle cruiser “Peter the Great”, one of the world’s largest combat battleships. REUTERS/Stringer (RUSSIA)The thought of Russian warships cruising the waters of the Caribbean instinctively revives memories of such Cold War episodes as the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Russia is sending a heavily armed nuclear-powered cruiser and other ships, aircraft and troops for a joint naval exercise with Venezuela, its first big manoeuvres in the United States’ self-declared backyard since the end of the Cold War.

It is extremely unlikely the deployment will provoke a crisis as dangerous and dramatic as 1962, but it is still an irritant to Washington.

Venezuela under President Hugo Chavez has replaced Fidel Castro’s Cuba as its chief bugbear in Latin America.

Spouting anti-imperialist rhetoric, Chavez has led a socialist revolution aimed at countering a century of U.S. influence — some might say meddling — in the region. He counts as allies leaders such as Bolivia’s Evo Morales as well as many poor people. 

He has backed up his actions with largesse from Venezuela’s oil wealth. Ironically, a lot of those dollars come from the United States. Venezuela is its fifth-largest oil supplier, a trade relationship which has hobbled Washington’s reactions to Chavez’s adventures.

Venezuela has already bought fighter jets, submarines and guns from Russia. And add to the equation Venezuela’s burgeoning friendship with Iran, another bete noire for the Americans.

Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (L) and Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez meet at Novo Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow July 22, 2008. REUTERS/Miraflores Palace/Handout (RUSSIA)Chavez seems to enjoy goading the Bush administration almost for the fun of it. He has variously called President George W. Bush a donkey, a drunk, and in a U.N. speech, the Devil.”

The naval exercises with Russia will not be as easy for Washington to brush off as the name-calling.

Relations between Washington and Moscow are tense because of Russia’s intervention in Georgia in August. The Kremlin was angered by the United States’ sending a naval flotilla to the Black Sea to show support for Georgia.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev even asked how Washington would feel if Russian sent aid vessels to the Caribbean.

During the Cold War, Russian had a substantial military presence in Cuba and was involved behind the scenes in the Central American wars of the 1980s. With the Soviet Union’s collapse, all that ended.

But Russian officials have made it clear recently that Moscow is ready to play a role on the world stage again.

Meanwhile the United States’ Fourth Fleet this year began patrolling Latin American waters for the first time in 50 years, a move that Chavez denounced but that has also concerned moderate countries such as Brazil.

The Venezuela-Russia exercises are due to take place days after the U.S. presidential election – an event that will complicate any response from Washington and at the same time divert world attention.




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Wow! War games in our back yard. Hope they don’t mind if we PLAY! Our teem is ready for some exercise, don’t mind if we do! Thank you Mr. Chavez for setting the day, time, and place. We’d be glad to Kick-Off if you like.
Let’s Get Ready To Rumble! Winner takes all? Oil that is .Texas Tea Baby. When you insult our PRESIDENT, you insult All of us. Our Back Yard, Our Ball, Our Rules!
Lets Play Ball!

Posted by James | Report as abusive

Russia thiks it is big and strong all they are going to do is tick us off and lead to another stuggle

Posted by ryan | Report as abusive

There is no strategic advantage for Russia to seriously offending the United States or NATO to the point of war. However, the more frustration and confusion they cause, the happier they will be. Activities like support for Chavez is a direct bid to embarrass the US by exposing our foreign policy as a paper tiger and to drive energy prices higher by building geopolitical fear into the markets.

They see their role right now as antagonist, not parallel leader but they believe their time will come soon enough if they keep pushing. Let’s all hope their oil and natural gas reserves are worth less by then.

Posted by Da6d | Report as abusive

A bad example is contagious, as they say.. However narrow-sighted an action, this is very likely a consequence of our terrible and divisive foreign policy. Who else haven’t we ticked off lately?

Posted by bmwshop | Report as abusive

Russians should send “humanitarian” aid on those warships to hurricain battered islands in the Carribean much like US is doing to Georgia now, by using US warships. That will add “peace and stability” to the region (so Dick & his gang will be happy)

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

Gotta love Chavez. He is supposed to be the defender against imperialism, yet he is making nice with the most imperialistic “democracy” in the world. The Russians may regret that little friendship in the end, anyway, cause Chavez will push everyone around him too far.

Posted by Ptrizzle | Report as abusive

Terrible to see so many war lovers in our world. You would think we could all understand and implement the wisdom history has given us to keep us out of such ordeals.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

Russia is just trying to react to what America did by sending its warships with humanitarian aid to Georgia. I hope America ignores the war games between Russia and Venezuela since it is meaningless. If America does ignore the war games, the Russians won’t gain from what I believe is their underlying reason for the war games and that is to cause oil prices to rise and thus increase their income along with that of Venezuela.

Russia’s military is far behind the sophistication of America’s and they can only be envious of our power.

What America needs to be concerned with is that Russia’s oil wealth is growing enormously and that is the real danger to the Western countries. They lost the Cold War because they ran out of money trying to compete with America and supporting third world countries like Cuba, N. Korea, their Eastern European satellite countries, etc. But with oil prices the way they are today, Russia is accumulating money that they could use to start another cold war.

To counter all this, the United States has to use all of its natural resources to become energy independent and also follow the lead of Boone Pickens and utilize more windpower and convert all of our transportation away from the use of diesel fuel to natural gas. The European countries should also use natural gas or electric power to run their cars and trucks.

The Europeans can use electric powered cars and trucks since the driving distances are short relative to driving distances in the United States. And they can generate all the electric power that they need since they have many nuclear facilities for power generation.

We can also conserve the world’s energy resources by doing less business with communist China and with India. As these two countries with the world’s largest populations grow industrially and their middle classes expand, they will demand more or the world’s oil and natural resources which will in turn cause energy and natural resources to skyrocket which will cause everything to increase throughout the world.

People need to remember that China is a communist country and you don’t want them to become too wealthy where they will be able to buy any and all kinds of military weaponry. This is a matter of national defense that the American government apparently doesn’t recognize yet. Whoever is in charge of our foreign policy with China is probably thinking that we can make China into a more peaceful country by improving the living standards of their people. They fail to realize that even if China’s people’s living standards are raised, it is still going to be ruled by the communist leaders at the top who will never give up on their communist philosophy. China will always to communist.

Posted by realmerv | Report as abusive

Well, the returning of the cold war must fill the Bush and Chenny types with heart felt glee. For over ten years the world was ablt to get along together, and a very hopeful future existed.

It’s sad that such people as President Bush, Vice President Chenney, Rumsfield and such, cannot live without inter national hatred and mistrust; a world of ‘us’ or ‘them’. The blood lust they have, is now for the world to see. But then again, to such as these, there is no profit in nations getting along.

Posted by John G. | Report as abusive

War World III? I hope the US send a elite army group to kill Chavez. If he die, Venezuela will have democracy again. I know most people in Venezuela hate Chavez. He’s a dictator and people are afraid of him like Saddam Husein.

Rusia won’t risk a war either if the US attack Chavez.

Posted by martin | Report as abusive

Why doesn’t this piece mention that these joint naval exercises have been planned for nearly a year? Two sovereign nations can consent to this kind of activity; the USA does not own the Caribbean Sea any more than Russia owns the Black Sea. The US attitude toward Russia today strikes me much like the attitude of the UK to Germany in the years before World War I–both the UK then (and the USA now) don’t want to see other countries rise to prominence in the world. It’s time that people stopped seeing the successes of another country as a failure of theirs.

If you think we are siding with Georgia on principle, think again. Think “oil pipeline.” Georgia attacked a region with a legitimate Russian peace-keeping presence, and Russia struck back. Who is the real aggressor?

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

James, please keep in mind that Chavez is NOT insulting your president, he’s just repeating what 95% of the world population is thinking about him.
“When you insult our PRESIDENT, you insult All of us”… what a primitive thought!!!

Posted by rodrigue garcia | Report as abusive

Really what was the White House expecting? Bush and Co. have spent years thumbing their noses at the Russians at every single issue that brings them together, from Iraq to Nato to missile defense; and when the war with Georgia broke out when Georgia sent troops to S.Ossetia and Abkhazia, The US doesn’t use its influence to settle the dispute, but instead Bush and his staff recites anti-russian rhetoric, pushes for Nato membership for Ukraine, puts up missiles in Poland, sends warships into the Black Sea on the Georgia coastline for ‘humanitarian purposes’ and sends Cheney with an obvious warhawk belligerent attitude citing a consideration of selling arms to Georgia; naturally the Russians retaliated with these wargames with Venzuela … What was the White House Expecting from the Kremlin, an opology with a basket of fruit? An intelligent administration would now try to smooth things over backstage with the Russians to stop this doom spiral of escalation, after all a Russia friendly to the US in more or less equal terms is more useful for everyone, but as G W Bush proved, an intelligent administration is not a pre- requisite for the White House keys.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

Quid pro quo . The only solution to this nonesense is for America to suspend its activities in Eastern Europe including its missile sheild, enlargement of NATO and the funding of specific political groupings. This Russian administration will rataliate like-for-like and has enormous potential to damage American interests throughout the world. Obama, McCain, get with the program.

Posted by Brendan | Report as abusive

John G, Rumsfeld resigned, check your facts before you blame people or ruining the world. Nobody is innocent in all of this clamoring. The US operating in Russia’s sphere of influence got them fired up, just like we get fired up when they come into our neighborhood, what everyone should do is take a deep breath relax and work things out. There is no Value in having Russia as our enemy, unless we want to spin up the cold war economy again…

Posted by Robb | Report as abusive

[…] Some have been making hysterical noises about Russia’s military exercises with Venezuela. Instead, might I suggest listening to the […]

Posted by Russia » Blog Archive » Politics Sticks In My Throat Too… | Report as abusive

“Donkey”? “Devil”? “Drunk”? How about War Criminal? How about Coke-head? How about Torturer in Chief? How about Sadistic Idiot? How about C- Yaley? How about Fascist Slimeball? I’m with you Hugo, I just don’t think you go far enough. You don’t mention his propensity for fart jokes–and “Donkey” doesn’t begin to describe how bestially stupid and abysmally ignorant (and proud of it) George Bush Jr. really is. Come. You can do better. And while you’re at it, do you think that you and Evo and Lugo could use the military assistance you’re getting from Iran and Russia to drive out the CIA and destroy the U.S. military and paramilitary capability in South America? Think of how many innocent people you’d be saving from torture and murder….

Posted by anatole4dd | Report as abusive

So does anyone not believe that Russia has been planning not only the invasion of Georgia and sending nuclear ships to Soth America has not been planned for months? How long would it take to send so many tanks into Georgia on two different fronts. Do you not think that the Russian navy was not ready to be deployed along with its two bomber aircraft? Putin is a dangerous Psycopath that needs radical treatment, remember is is a bear in sheeps clothing. We have been warned now we must apply conditions, sanctions on their”free market” stop investment until Russian troops are out off Sovereign counties. Oh by the way, it WAS Russia that invaded Georgia on the 7 August as the radio tapes will prove and confirm that Russia can never be trusted under this leadership

Posted by Billy Hirst | Report as abusive

We need to tell Venezuela,Bolivia and Honduras to stick it. We need to stop buying oil from them now. I don’t care how much it will cost me. As far as Russia is concerned we should be sensitive to their emotional needs because they won’t be our friends if we don’t. Maybe we should send the UN to Venezuela. Then they can really tell us how we should provide for all the dictators and their havenots.

Posted by d tyler | Report as abusive

Bmwshop, what are you talking about? We went to Georgia in order to try and help a country that was being systematically destroyed by the Russians. They are our allies that is what allies due.

Posted by honorbeforeglory | Report as abusive