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Venezuela's Maduro Announces Billions Of Dollars In Russian Investment

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro outside Moscow on December 5.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has announced more than $6 billion in Russian oil and gold mining investments in the crisis-wracked South American country.

Maduro made the announcement on December 6 in Moscow, following two days of talks with Russian officials and investors.

Oil-rich Venezuela has been racked by economic and political crisis since 2010 under leftist leader Hugo Chavez and has continued into Maduro's presidency.

In a video message posted on his official Twitter account, Maduro said that contracts were signed to guarantee an oil investment of more than $5 billion and contracts worth over $1 billion in the mining sector, mainly in gold production.

Maduro said the agreements with Russia also involved wheat supplies and Russian expertise on weapons systems.

There was no immediate confirmation of the contracts from Russian officials.

However, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russia's military aircraft will make stopovers in Venezuela and its ships will call at its ports as part of bilateral military cooperation.

Shoigu spoke during talks in Moscow with his Venezuelan counterpart, Vladimir Padrino Lopez, who said Caracas hoped that Moscow will help modernize previously supplied weapons.

On December 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced his support for Maduro as the two leaders met in Moscow, and he condemned “any attempts to change the situation [in Venezuela] by force.”

Russia came to Venezuela's rescue last year with a debt restructuring deal after the country was driven to the verge of default by falling oil prices and tough sanctions imposed by the United States to counter what Washington sees as Maduro's increasingly autocratic grip on his nation.

Millions have fled the country, driven by violence, hyperinflation, and major shortages of food.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP