Moscow has employed economic tools such as preferential trade arrangements, discounts on oil and gas exports, debt relief, and financial bailouts to increase its global influence. All three components of the Russian energy sector (oil, gas, and nuclear power) often play leading roles in Russian diplomatic and commercial outreach. Links between government entities and criminal/corrupt activities are a standard feature of such efforts.
The Kremlin is now a key player in the dramatic events unfolding in Venezuela. Amid an increasingly desperate economic and humanitarian situation and sharpening tensions between Caracas and Washington, Moscow is helping prop up the beleaguered government of President Nicolás Maduro. In exchange, Russia is acquiring valuable assets at knockdown prices.
Russia’s activities in Venezuela are just one example of how Moscow is leveraging its economic power to expand its influence in the Western Hemisphere. Rosneft’s growing role in Venezuela’s energy sector illustrates how Russian political and business leaders often blend commercial opportunities with important foreign policy objectives.