Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro and Russian president Vladimir Putin met on Wednesday and agreed to strengthen ties between the two nations and discuss the possibility of restructuring some of Venezuela’s considerable Russian debt.
“I thank you for all the support, both political and diplomatic, during the difficult moments we are experiencing,” Maduro said in remarks before the two leaders held a meeting in private.
— Prensa Presidencial (@PresidencialVen) October 4, 2017
Maduro went on to blame the fall in oil prices on Venezuela’s dire economic situation, which has seen the monthly minimum wage fall to just $3.50 and left millions in abject poverty due to a chronic lack of basic resources such as food, medicine, and sanitary products.
“It is the most abrupt and extensive fall in price in 100 years of oil production history, which affected the economies of important countries in various regions,” Maduro said.
“The governments of Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and Venezuela are in almost daily coordination to achieve a new governability of the oil market, a new mechanism that breaks with the trend toward future speculation in order to stabilize the global energy market,” he continued.
Iranian media revealed this week that Maduro was in talks with Syrian and Iranian authorities to discuss building an oil refinery in Syria that could produce 140,000 barrels per day in an attempt to bypass recent sanctions imposed by the United States.
Since the Maduro regime created an alternate legislature known as “national constituents assembly,” the Trump administration has pummelled Venezuela with economic sanctions. Among the most significant sanctions are a ban on Americans dealing with Venezuelan government debt or that of its state-run oil company, as well as personal sanctions against Maduro and other government officials.
Amid sanctions and widespread condemnation from the international community, the regime is having to turn to potential allies in the east to help its economic collapse.
In their desperate search for cash, Venezuela also began negotiating a $500 million deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin whereby Russia will take control of a number of the country’s most profitable oil fields.
The pair discussed the possibility of restructuring Venezuela‘s considerable Russian debt after the Russian government lent $4 billion to Venezuela in 2011 to finance its military, which the Maduro regime is now unable to pay off.
“We see that Venezuela is undergoing an uneasy time,” Putin said. “There is the impression that you have nonetheless managed to establish some kind of contact with the political forces that oppose you.”