'Go ahead and squeal, Yankees' Hugo Chavez says
Just 10 months ago the King of Spain sunk Hugo Chavez's metaphorical battleship into deep icy diplomatic waters when he told him to 'shut up' at a summit in Santiago, Chile.
But on television Monday 8, September 2008 the Venezuelan President chirped like a canary when he announced 1000 Russian amigos would play ships and planes with him in November.
'Go ahead and squeal, Yankees' Hugo Chavez boasted of the newly planned party in Venezuela's Carribean waters.
Following the Russian fleet of four ships, which would include the prestigious Peter the Great missile cruiser, are long-range patrol planes, possibly theIl-38 or Tu-142, With these toys Chavez may pretend to sink Uncle Sam's actual submarines and battleships.
On the Russian side it was not immediately clear the motivation for the military dispatch. But observers have noted the Caracas and Moscow regimes have previously traded arms for money, both said nasty things about the United States, are totalitarian and have a de facto alliance.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko stayed cool: "This deployment had been planned in advance, and it's unrelated to the current political situation and the developments in the Caucasus."
One Russian political analyst was not so convinced, Vyacheslav Nikonov reckoned it was tit-for-tat after America had sent warships to deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia: "Moscow won't leave such challenges unanswered," he said.
Certainly, the United States will not ignore the link to the Georgian invasion, particularly if Vladimir Putin's fleet does not deliver Chavez the medicines he apparently needs.
Perhaps of related concern in the troubled region, upstart Nicaraguan Marxist President Daniel Ortega recently joined Russia and recognised the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
The Central American state lies in close proximity to Venezuela on the north South American continent; both states just 500km and 750km from the strategic Panama Canal.
When asked, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman hand waved this away: "We exercise all around the globe and have joint exercises with countries all over the world. So do many other nations."
It remains possible Hugo Chavez has exaggerated the importance of the Russian military visit.
Tags: Venezuela , Hugo Chavez , Russian Naval Exercise , Panama Canal
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