VLADIMIR Putin is set to move Russian warships to Venezuela after agreeing to give the debt-ridden Latin American country financial aid.
The Kremlin chief came to Venezuela's rescue this week by agreeing to restructure £2.27bn of the crisis-hit country's debt to Moscow.
And according to Russian media, Mr Putin is now looking to strike a deal to keep Russia's warships at ports in Venezuela.
Under the proposed payback agreement, the vessels would be kept in the socialist state for up to 15 days at a time.
The alliance would likely infuriate the United States, which has recently imposed harsh economic sanctions on Venezuela.
Donald Trump's administration has branded his counterpart Nicolas Maduro a "dictator" and called for the end of his "illegitimate rule".
Venezuela's overall debt is estimated at £90bn – the legacy of disastrous hard-left economic policies under Hugo Chavez and successor Mr Maduro.
The country is now teetering on the brink of declaring itself bankrupt.
But Russia's assistance is expected to ease the financial burden and shore up Mr Maduro's position.
Risa Grais-Targow, from political risk firm Eurasia Group, said: "Clearly the Venezuelans have been looking for relief anywhere they can get it.