Putin is a master strategist and he has proven it yet again. Despite several sanctions placed on Russia by the West due to the war in Ukraine, the Russian economy under Putin has managed to sail through and has minimized the possibility of economic collapse. Russian energy supplies have kept Europe on its feet for years and that fact has now helped Putin to maintain its influence on the western block.
NATO and its allies have been trying to find alternatives to replace Russian oil. Master of NATO, the USA has let go of some of its sanctions on the Latin American country of Venezuela and has “allowed” Spanish oil company Repsol SA and Italy’s Eni to start shipping Venezuelan oil to Europe in July, so as to help Europe ease its dependence on Russian oil.
The Colombian angle
Colombia has good relations with the United States, unlike Venezuela. Amid the global energy crisis, Washington has tried to woo Caracas to tap its huge oil reserves to fulfil Europe’s humongous energy needs.
Caracas, however, has pledged “Strong Support” to Russia amid the Ukraine war. One of the reasons is Biden’s good friend in the south – Colombia who is now also a major Non-NATO ally and has a troubled history with Venezuela.
On June 3, Maduro stated that the “only thing” that enters Venezuela from the Colombian side is “terrorism, violence, drug trafficking, kidnapping, smuggling, and crime”. Caracas has also complained about Colombian illegal migration, human trafficking and COVID-19 supposedly coming across the border.
Putin backing anti-NATO demonstrations?
Venezuela’s ideological proximity to Moscow and the country’s violent history with the United States and Colombia has opened a window for Putin to empower Venezuela to disallow its oil supply to Europe so that the western nations stay dependent on Russia for their energy needs.
Venezuela will be holding an anti-NATO summit in the state of Táchira, on the border with Colombia, in parallel to the Western military bloc’s event in Madrid, Spain. “Táchira will be the Latin American capital of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) counter-summit on June 28-29”, Venezuelan parliamentarian Julio Chávez told the Russian news agency Sputnik.
Declining US soft power during the Biden administration has triggered a domino effect that has resulted in diminishing US influence around the globe. According to professors of international affairs Henry J. Farrel and Abraham L. Newman. Washington’s sanctions policy, although still a burden for its targets, is becoming increasingly less effective and in fact, even backfires in terms of stimulating new partnerships – and even initiatives aiming at de-dollarization. It also reflects very poorly on the US’s ability to accept the emerging polycentric and multipolar new global dynamics.
It looks like NATO’s differences with Maduro have pushed it into a crisis where there is a very low probability for them to ensure energy supply. The United States should have maintained cordial relations with its Latin neighbour but we guess for now that Europe has no one to fall back on other than Putin.