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Cablegate: Venezuela to Recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia

VZCZCXRO2548
RR RUEHDBU RUEHIK RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHSK RUEHSL RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #2330 2531425
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101425Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4767
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS MOSCOW 002330

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG RS VZ

SUBJECT: VENEZUELA TO RECOGNIZE ABKHAZIA AND SOUTH OSSETIA

1. (SBU) Summary: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced
Venezuela's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia during a
meeting with Russian President Medvedev in Moscow September 10. The
decision was possibly sweetened by the conclusion of a number of
agreements to develop energy resources in Venezuela, the decision to
create a Venezuelan-Russian bank, and Russia's offer to sell tanks
and other weapons to Venezuela. End Summary.

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Chavez Recognizes Abkhazia and South Ossetia...
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (SBU) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told Russian President
Medvedev that Venezuela recognized Abkhazian and South Ossetian
sovereignty "from this moment forward" during a meeting between the
two leaders in Moscow September 10, according to press reports.
Venezuela would become the third country after Russia and Nicaragua
to recognize the independence of the two separatist regions.
Medvedev responded by thanking Chavez for his "serious and important
announcement," while Duma leaders praised the Venezuelan decision as
the continuation of a steady process by which other countries would
recognize the breakaway regions. Deputy Chairman of the Duma CIS
Committee Kontstantin Zatulin asserted that international
recognition would proceed gradually, adding that "Russia does not
force countries to recognize them like the U.S. did with regards to
Kosovo."

---------------------------------------
...And Pockets Finance and Energy Deals
---------------------------------------

3. (SBU) As probable sweeteners for Chavez' decision, Venezuelan
and Russian concerns signed several energy-related agreements
September 10 to develop Venezuelan oil fields along the Orinoko
River and provide other energy infrastructure. Medvedev also
announced the creation of a joint Venezuelan-Russian bank to be
established by year-end 2009 with four billion dollars in capital,
51 percent of which will be provided by Russian banks Vneshtorgbank
and Gazprombank.

4. (SBU) Medvedev also announced Russia would continue to provide
arms, including tanks, to Venezuela. In recent years, Russia has
racked up some four billion dollars in weapons sales to Venezuela,
including fighter jets, helicopters, and assault rifles. While no
formal announcement has been made, media report that Venezuela is
considering a purchase of up to 500 million dollars' worth of
Russian-made T-72 tanks.

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Comment
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5. (SBU) Chavez' announcement is unlikely to start a wave of
international recognition for Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Venezuela
is too close to Russia for Chavez' decision to be a major coup.
Still, while Russia claims it does not care about international
recognition of the breakaway regions, its leaders are clearly
pleased with Chavez' decision. Russian-Venezuelan agreements on
energy and finance and the continuing arms deals show that the
goodwill Chavez has engendered has not gone unrewarded by the
Russian leadership.

BEYRLE

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