Russia’s State-Owned Defense Conglomerate, Rostec, to Provide “Comprehensive Security” for  Venezuela’s Power Infrastructure

On August 3, Rus­si­a’s TASS News Agency report­ed that the Russ­ian state-owned enter­prise and defense con­glom­er­ate, Ros­tec, signed an agree­ment with the Nation­al Elec­tric­i­ty Cor­po­ra­tion of Venezuela (Cor­po­elec) to imple­ment joint projects to sup­port the “com­pre­hen­sive secu­ri­ty” of Venezuela’s nation­al pow­er infra­struc­ture.  The exact details of the agree­ment are unclear, but it rep­re­sents only the lat­est in a trend of Russ­ian involve­ment in Venezuela’s pow­er sec­tor, which has been sub­ject to chron­ic pow­er short­ages since 2009.

Per the agree­ment, Ros­tec will joint­ly devel­op dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies, sup­ply the required equip­ment and pro­vide tech­ni­cal sup­port to Cor­po­elec.  Accord­ing to Russ­ian media, Venezuela is inter­est­ed in acquir­ing auto­mat­ed sys­tems that sup­port process­es for emer­gency con­trol, oper­a­tional mon­i­tor­ing, and data flow man­age­ment of the country’s elec­tric­i­ty infrastructure.

In 2007, Venezuela’s pow­er sys­tem was nation­al­ized under state-run monop­oly, CORPOELEC, and it has been under­fund­ed and poor­ly man­aged ever since.  In 2019, for exam­ple, Venezuela grap­pled with a wave of mas­sive pow­er cuts across the coun­try, includ­ing the cap­i­tal city of Cara­cas.  While experts attrib­uted the black­outs to dilap­i­dat­ed elec­tric­i­ty facil­i­ties, the Russ­ian and Venezue­lan gov­ern­ments attrib­uted them to a U.S cyberattack.

Despite Russia’s more than decade-long over­tures toward help­ing for­ti­fy Venezuela’s elec­tric­i­ty infra­struc­ture, their involve­ment appears to have failed to pro­duce sig­nif­i­cant results.  The recent agree­ment report­ed­ly falls with­in the purview of a 2008 inter­gov­ern­men­tal agree­ment for ener­gy sec­tor coop­er­a­tion between Venezuela and Rus­sia.  Sub­se­quent­ly, in 2010, Rus­sia signed an agree­ment with Venezuela to build the country’s first nuclear pow­er plant, although it appears that imple­men­ta­tion of this project is still in limbo.