RFS Pyotr Velikiy and its entourage set sail for Venezuela yesterday. The ship has broken down during exercises before, and I suspect that part of the point of the voyage is to demonstrate that major Russian naval units can operate distant from Russian bases. In related news, Russia is apparently stepping up aid offers to Bolivia. I'll confess that I don't really get this; what's the point of antagonizing the United States in Latin America, when the United States can antagonize Russia in the Caucasus to much greater effect?

The Russians may be thinking that exposing U.S. vulnerability in Latin America will deter the U.S. from mucking about in Georgia and Ukraine, but I suspect the opposite is much more likely. Moreover, Russia is considerably more vulnerable to U.S. antagonism in its Near Abroad than the U.S. is to Russian antagonism in Latin America. But it will be interesting to watch as the game plays out.

--Robert Farley