Vladimir Putin is widely expected to be re-elected president this year after his only serious challenger, Alexei Navalny was refused permission to run. Russia is also preparing to host the World Cup in 2018.
Venezuela's economy is in a downward spiral, and the country owes Russia billions. Caracas may seem like an unequal partner for Moscow at first glance, but an increasingly isolated Russia is keeping its friends close.
The chancellor told her Russian counterpart that measures needed to be taken to ensure "smooth passage" through the Kerch Strait. But stopping conflict in the Sea of Azov wasn't the only thing the two leaders discussed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro have been making a diplomatic show of their friendship, leaving Washington wary of Russia's participation in a Venezuelan military exercise.
The Venezuelan president, who views Russia as a strategic ally, is ending his diplomatic efforts this year "with a flourish." The trip comes after Turkey pledged to help Venezuela with its economic crisis.
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