Natacha Pisarenko / AP / TASS If Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s regime falls, Vladimir Putin will have to write off yet another costly geopolitical bet. Just don’t expect Moscow to stop taking such gambles as it tries to counter U.S. influence across the globe.Russia is Venezuela’s most important foreign sponsor after China. Data on these countries’ financing of Venezuela are scarce, but China’s investment has been estimated to be as much as $70 billion, most of it to be paid back in oil. Russia and its state-owned companies have lent and injected more than $17 billion over the last 20 years. President Putin promised the latest $6 billion, plus 600,000 tons of grain, in December.Much of Russia’s lending and investment has been channeled through Rosneft, the state-owned oil and gas giant run by Putin’s ally Igor Sechin. According to its most recent available annual report, Rosneft sold $2.5 billion of oil produced by the Venezuelan state-owned company PDVSA by the end of 2017.Though Venezuela has been slow to supply oil to cover its debts, Russia has, on the whole, been happy to let them accumulate so it can receive potentially lucrative oil and gas extraction licenses. It has large minority stakes in five… Read full this story
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