Russian warships arrived in Venezuela today, a show of strength aimed at the US as Moscow seeks to expand its influence in Latin America. Venezuelan sailors fired off cannons in a 21-gun salute as the destroyer Admiral Chabanenko docked in La Guaira, near Caracas. Russian sailors dressed in black-and-white uniforms lined up along the bow.
The deployment is the first of its kind in the Caribbean since the Cold War and was timed to coincide with Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Caracas—the first by a Russian president. Hugo Chávez has eagerly welcomed the ships; he wants Russian help to build a nuclear reactor and invest in oil and natural gas projects. Chávez also wants weapons, and has bought more than $4 billion in Russian jets, helicopters, and rifles to date.