The Not So Diplomatic Russian Ambassador to Venezuela

September 19, 2011

Today, Tal Cual carries a letter his newspaper received from the Russian Ambassador to Venezuela which is as undiplomatic in all respects as one could possibly think. The letter shows Ambassador Zaemskiv must have gone to the same School of Diplomacy most Chavista diplomats have gone to, showing that Mr. Zaemskiy is not on top of his job, he does not even know the details of what he is complaining about, but at the same time he is trying to defend Russian technology, by blaming five helicopter crashes on the ability of the Venezuelan military to fly them. He seems to forget, his Government had a responsibility for technology transfer.

As Petkoff details in his reply to the Ambassador’s letter, his newspaper wrote an article saying that five Russian helicopters, four Mi-17 helicopters and an Mi-26 helicopter had crashed in the last four years. Well, the Ambassador felt somewhat insulted by this, writing to say that it was only three, but if you check Venezuelan papers you will see that the original article was indeed correct. In Russian, and using independent sources from Tal Cual: один, два, три and  четыре for the Mi 17 and один for the Mi 26, and not three Mi 17’s like the Ambassador wants us to believe , but a total of five magnificent Russian machines, that just crashed.

In his last sentence the Ambassador talks about saving Venezuelan lives with these machines. Well, Mr. Ambassador, each of these wonderful crappy things you make in Russia and sell to Venezuela is worth like US$ 15 million: Do you know how many lives could have been saved with those US$ 75 million (It is a little more, but I did not bother to find out how much the Mi 26 is worth)

So, save your crappy sob, sob for another day or your бабушка (babushka).

As Petkoff notes, he is being called a liar in no uncertain terms, based on just the number of crashes, which the Ambassador had wrong, something which I think was not something a diplomat does in foreign soil, even if it is to defend Russian technology and he had the details right. He might be better of just saying nothing. Don’t insult your host, even if your are mad. But after this faux pas, Ambassador Zaemskiv compounds his lack of manners and diplomacy by saying:

“After each accident, a detailed investigation was performed composed of both Venezuelan and Russian military (my comment: No guarantee right there!)…the results of these investigation accepted by both sides is that there were no irregularities in these reliable machines”

Read: The accidents were due to the unreliable Venezuelans, they could not run the trinkets we sold them.

Which may be true, but maybe, just maybe, the people were not trained well, the whole thing was rushed, badly implemented, badly sold. It’s the sale that matters in Russian capitalism. In its rush to make the sale, Russia sold Venezuela helicopters that Venezuela did not have the trained personnel to fly. But hey Mr. Zaemskiv, if they crash, maybe we will buy more! Nice for Russian capitalism, exploiting dumb militaristic Venezuelan socialism, no?

The truth is that his words would be a scandal anywhere except in Stebanish country. Chavez and the Venezuelan military love buying expensive, useless toys, wasting money on things they can’t run, but feel happy about having. Ambassador  Zaemskiv pretty much says so: they sold us crap that we can’t handle, and he seems quite happy about it.

Whether the machines are good or not is irrelevant, here is a picture:

the truth is Ambassador Zaemskiv, that your country sold us crap. That your country has been irresponsibly selling crap to Chavez and making deals to take advantage of Chavez is well know. If the machines were “fine” and “reliable” like you say, the helicopter providers (you!) were not, they did not provide the training, nor the manuals, nor the know-how, nor the technology transfer required when you sell such a sophisticated machine.

And yes, these equally irresponsible Venezuelans on the other side buying your Russian crap, without training, manuals and with the same irresponsible attitude that you have.

And I can’t help to wonder, who collected the “comision” (отдача) in this deal. Do you Ambassador Zaemskiv know? You must, you seem very defensive in your letter.

And please Ambassador, you can use the comments section if you want to, we would love to hear from you!

(And yes, Petkoff may have also gone overboard calling the Ambassador a communist and used to lying, but I guess he has a right to rant too!)

33 Responses to “The Not So Diplomatic Russian Ambassador to Venezuela”

  1. Roy Says:

    A long time ago, someone wrote a scathing critique of the then Soviet Union. I don’t remember who it was, but it went:

    “The Soviet Union is a third-world country with first-class weapons, run by men whose minds aren’t even second-rate.”

    It appears that the second two have only gotten worse since then…

  2. Carlos Says:

    Russian technology is the poorest today. Specifically for aircrafts no way to make comparisons with top notch Sikorsky, Boeing, GD, Airbus, etc etc
    Even brasilian EMBRAER planes and Canadian Bombardier are more affordable than any russian flying device.
    They are just selling flying crap, 10to 20 years old technology with some good weapon installed.

  3. CharlesC Says:

    Remember Chavez was WAS claiming Colombia was going to invade
    Venezuela-backed by the US.So, was this why Chavez bought these
    weapons? Should Colombia help to liberate Venezuela
    from Chavez (if Chavez steals the election)? I hope S.Americans and other nations do not recognize the Chavez government if IF he steals the
    election and demand that he step down.

  4. Bill Says:

    CNBC TV recently interviewed a Western businessman who described how the Russians stole his business then murdered his lawyer when he tried to use their ‘legal system’ to try and get it back. It is a sad story how the lawyer died in jail because he was denied medical treatment that would have saved him.
    The Russian mobsters, I mean government used their standard ‘tax evasion’ excuse to try and justify their theft of the business. Russia is controlled by mobsters.

  5. Kepler Says:

    Miguel, anything more about the new embassy building in Moscow?

    On the side:
    The letter is also written in very bad Spanish. It is not just the undiplomatic style, it is simply very bad Spanish: the syntax and punctuation of a 7-year old Venezuelan…only that there are some articles a native speaker doesn’t use. Slavs have problems with the use of articles…so it was written by a Russian who learnt Spanish from Soto Rojas or former ex becario chavista influenced by Russian. An embassy, unlike bloggers, should use better editors for its formal correspondence.

    • HalfEmpty Says:

      Thanks you Kepler, I suspect that explains a lot of the WTF?

      • Kepler Says:

        I mean: it seems like a detail, but I think it is telling. It is the embassy of a major country and it is an official letter to a newspaper. I couldn’t imagine the Russian embassy in Spain sending an official letter in anything but decent Spanish. It’s almost as if they wouldn’t care and just send el perraje…total, igual el teniente bananero les va a comprar sus Sujoys y sus Kalashnikovs y sus Smech.

  6. Carolina Says:

    I read this post early in the morning so I kept thinking about it on my way to work. All that came to my mind was about how insulting this so-called ambassador had been to the venezuelan armed forces. I’m glad I’m not alone since I see other similar comments before this one.
    Sad part is that nobody, NOBODY from the military has came forward to reply to this? It is fear or is it lack of pride? Or a bozal de arepa?
    Shame on you!

  7. JMA Says:

    At last Escarra has found a worthy opponent.

  8. JMA Says:

    “… and Venezuelan military must feel even more insulted…”

    Well, that is the problem, isn’t it? They do not feel insulted at all, at least, not those in the top brass. Actually, their minds are much more inclined to produce pearls like this one:

    El gobernador General Carneiro subrayó que “una de las experiencias más hermosas es recibir instrucciones y órdenes del jefe de este proceso revolucionario.”

    Jeez, he wasn’t referring to me, but still my scrotum hurts.

  9. Dr. Faustus Says:

    Two excellent comments….
    (1) Mike Says:

    September 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    “Now, the ambassador’s comments in no uncertain terms imply human error, i.e. VENEZUELAN human error as the cause of the accidents. If e.g. the US embassador had said something like this under similar circumstances, he would have been expelled overnight for offending the national pride of the Bolivarian Air Force’s pilots that of course exceed the benchmark of global excellence,…”

    (2) Bloody Mary Dry Says:

    September 20, 2011 at 10:10 am

    “So, now we are a kind of colonial clowns of the Russians.
    The letter from this Russian is actually very offensive, and Venezuelan military must feel even more insulted…. this guy did not even made ​​an effort to write something more appropriate. “Why expend the time on this shit” he must have thought, “at the end these salvages only are indians: just look how they bought our crap” followed by a sinic laughs.”

    Good stuff. …!

  10. Bloody Mary Dry Says:

    I remember 2 year ago when a journalist asked to the White House Press Secretary if they were worried about Venezuela buying so many weapons from Russia, and the guy, in a funny way, answered that they were not, and that it was only Venezuela’s problem to expend their money in outdated and useless tecnology….. So, now we are a kind of colonial clowns of the Russians.
    The letter from this Russian is actually very offensive, and Venezuelan military must feel even more insulted…. this guy did not even made ​​an effort to write something more appropriate. “Why expend the time on this shit” he must have thought, “at the end these salvages only are indians: just look how they bought our crap” followed by a sinic laughs.

    • CharlesC Says:

      It’s not just the Russians who are laughing all the way to the bank
      when they see Chavez coming-re.Brazil, Argentina, China,

      • CharlesC Says:

        Venezuela became Russia’s 2nd largest arms sales
        customer.( I can’t believe #1 is/was Algeria??)
        I think now maybe Venezuela is #1-yea!!
        Do you sleep better knowing this?

  11. Kepler Says:

    I just wonder what those 20 (was it 20?) cadetes are doing at the War Academy in Minsk. Theoretically they are there to learn to drive helicopters, although as I mentioned earlier, a couple of the courses taught there are basically full studies on sabotage, espionage and the like. The instructors are people from what in Belarus (as opposed to Russia) is still called KGB (in Russia the same mafiosi ФСБ or FSB)

  12. Kepler Says:

    For 2005 Venezuela had bought already 44 helicopters

    In 2009 17 died when a Ми-17 fell (other sources say, according to article, that it was an Mi-35)

    In 2010 10 died on another Mi-17

    The one in August in Anzoátegui was a Bell Ranger

    In a 2009 article (Spanish) there are more references, I didn’t check them out:

  13. No, I think that one was not Russian.

  14. concerned Says:

    Is the new helicopter chavez had given evo that crashed a few years ago in Bolivia, killing all aboard including Venezuelans, included in those five?

  15. Alek Boyd Says:

    Russian technology… now that’s an oxymoron if I ever so one. Is like Cuban education, or Chinese democracy…

    Teodoro, not santo de mi devocion BTW, has every right to say whatever he likes about the thugs running Russia, as we all have. If Putin’s minion in CCS is offended, who bloody cares?

  16. bobthebuilder Says:

    How many Russian helicopters has Chavez bought? Five crashes could represent a very high percentage of the overall figure (especially if we include the Bolivian crash too?)

  17. Caraqueño Says:


    You only need to compare the service record of these helicopters with the service record of the old Bell, Sikorsky and Eurocopter models flown many years by the same Venezuelan Military.

  18. CarlosElio Says:

    Why would a diplomat behave so tacky? There are many possibilities: the guy had too much vodka, the guy still remembers when Brezhnev scolded Petkoff for writing about Czechoslovakia and socialism as a problem, the guy feels that he must return favors to chavez who has so prodigiously bought the crap they make, the guy has vicariously learned from the Cubans to manhandle Venezuelans and get paid to do so, etc. Out of the many, I believe is the last one in my list. I have seen the Crooked-in-Chief going on in one of his nauseating public addresses sitting next to the Chinese ambassador asking stupid questions about the Vergatario or about another project. And chavez instructs his ministers to pay attention to what the ambassador is saying. He empowers a foreign representative as a figure of authority to whom his cabinet must pay attention. So, this SOB that accuses his opponents freely of selling out to the empire, has taught his people to sell out to the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, and the Cubans. And tovarich Vladimir learned the lesson and insults Venezuelan public figures with abandon.

    Marginal to the obnoxious ambassador, take a look at this well-documented case of corruption and mismanagement

    • Syd Says:

      I would agree with number 3 on your list. Back around 2002, the Cuban consul in Toronto spoke at an event: a photographic exhibit in Toronto’s City Hall. The photographers were a bunch of romantics, one of whom was an instructor at two area universities. They had taken residence for a few weeks, in Havana, and elsewhere on that island.

      When the Cuban consul took the podium, I was appalled when he railed against a third country (guess which one?) for the economic shambles that Cuba is in today.

      It prompted a scathing letter from me to the editor of the main paper. In that letter, I asked with what moral authority this Consul, in Canada, pronounces on a country that he doesn’t even represent . (Con qué derecho, etc.) As it turns out, the paper published that lead letter with a giant photo of Fidel. All I hope is that readers, that day, were able to question some of the nonsense that spews out of the mouths of Cuban apparatchiks,

  19. Syd Says:

    bravo, Miguel, for this post. And very impressive weaving of russian.
    loved the бабушка reference.

  20. CharlesC Says:

    2005-2006 deal with Russia- $3.4 billion.
    24 fighter planes, air-defense systems and
    the aforementioned helicopters.
    In a separate deal -100,000 Kalishnikov AK 47’s.
    In 2007 purchase of 9 submarines (diesel powered)
    from Russia -may have been revised down to 5 later.
    They are small-outdated -1-2 billion.
    Subs are very expensive to maintain.
    Note the old subs frm RUssia possessed by Cuba have been
    retired. As has been the old ones from Russia sold to Libya.
    And Chavez and his minions claim they are ready to take on
    US military.

  21. Kepler Says:

    As Litvinenko, murdered by the thugs of the security service-Russian mafia, said, the Soviet Union had two powers that ruled: the mafia and ideology. Now only the mafia remains.

    These guys have earned at least 7 billion dollars already since 2004 for the toys of death and the numbers are going up fast.

    Russian airplanes are crap and they have been crap for a long time. You can see that in the constant plane accidents now in Russia. The more their machinery is targeted for destruction, the “better” it is, like with the AKs.
    They are too busy trying to make a buck in Putin’s Russian Federation now.

    • Mike Says:

      Just for the record, I suppose you mean 7 Billion in REVENUE, not earnings. You’d have to deduct the cost of making these equipments, s&h and incidentals. Plus the commissions and bribes to arrive at earnings. But looking at it from the Venezuelan side, it cost the country 7 Billion for useless (in terms of needs) and technologically outdated (maybe used) and highly overpriced military toys. And we are not even looking at the opportunity cost of this endeavour.

      Now, the ambassador’s comments in no uncertain terms imply human error, i.e. VENEZUELAN human error as the cause of the accidents. If e.g. the US embassador had said something like this under similar circumstances, he would have been expelled overnight for offending the national pride of the Bolivarian Air Force’s pilots that of course exceed the benchmark of global excellence, although the problem might just be insufficient training. Of course they’d never admit the latter, nor mechanical or electronical failure much less design flaws.

      Of course in this case, it won’t happen, because HCh wouldn’t want to offend Putin and the Russians who he THINKS are his friends. Of course it’s also possible that he is too dumb to get it.

      Great post btw, Miguel. Facts are facts, except for the hard left, where the motto is “too bad for the facts”, if they don’t fit the agenda.

  22. CharlesC Says:

    Thank you for this article. Finally, some information about at least one
    military deal.
    As you can see- waste, fraud, abuse, who did make commissions?
    Who approved these purchases anyway? Cubans?

    “your country has been irresponsibly selling crap to Chavez and making deals to take advantage of Chavez ”
    Cnavez wants to be taken advantage of-WANTS TO buy crap..
    Chinese are doing it too..

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