Russia and Venezuela have signed two energy cooperation pacts that promote closer ties between Russia's state-run natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, and Venezuela's state oil firm (PDVSA).

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, attended the signing ceremony Friday in the Russian city of Orenburg.  

Russian energy officials recently announced they will expand their investment in Venezuela's oil industry.  Russia also says it will lend Venezuela $1 billion to buy military hardware.

President Chavez is a harsh critic of the United States.  His visit to Russia comes as relations between Moscow and Washington have soured in the wake of last month's conflict between Russia and U.S. ally Georgia.  

The Venezuelan leader was scheduled to hold talks with French leaders Friday as part of a trip that has so far taken him to Cuba, China and Russia.  


Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.