Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and Russian President Vladimir Putin are to meet in Moscow Thursday with the aim of addressing the oil price plunge that is shocking both of their economies amid increasing international isolation. Oil revenue is central to both Russia's and Venezuela's economies, and Putin and Maduro have struggled to shield their governments from oil prices that are now at a six-year low point.
The Russia-Venezuela oil powwow comes after Maduro traveled this week to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Algeria, fellow oil exporters. "The situation on the global oil markets along with some other issues will be among the topics to be discussed," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Itar-Tass news agency. Putin had previously singled out Venezuela as Russia’s most reliable partner in Latin America.
Russia gets half of its budget revenue from oil production, while Venezuela's oil accounts for 96 percent of its hard currency revenue. Prices have dropped 60 percent since June to under $46 a barrel, according to Reuters. Maduro has said he will “continue the high-level efforts aimed at restoring world oil prices." He has tried in recent weeks to convince his fellow OPEC leaders to cut production to shore up collapsing prices, but they have resisted.
"I think the strategy will not change," Emirati Energy Minister Suhail Bin Mohammed al-Mazroui said at a recent energy event in Abu Dhabi, according to NPR. "By not panicking and readjusting or cutting the output from the OPEC countries, we are telling the market and the other producers that they need to be rational. They need to be like OPEC."
In Russia, the fall of oil prices comes after months of Western sanctions against Moscow over its backing of rebels in eastern Ukraine, which Putin denies. Those economic pressures have seen Putin's 15-year rule challenged by a historic currency crisis as the value of the ruble has plunged in recent weeks.
Russia's finance minister urged a cut in government spending Wednesday to address the budget crunch. "The state cannot have the kind of spending it used to have with economic growth ... (and) with the oil price at $100 per barrel," Anton Siluanov said.