Russia sends military planes to Venezuela | News | DW | 25.03.2019

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Russia sends military planes to Venezuela

Russia has emerged as a key ally of acting President Nicolas Maduro. Two planes, reportedly carrying military supplies and troops, have landed in Caracas.

Two planes loaded with Russian soldiers and military equipment landed in Venezuela at the weekend, officials said.

The delivery is part of ongoing cooperation between the two nations.

What the delivery consisted of

  • Two Russian air force planes landed at Caracas airport on Saturday, flight tracking showed.
  • A Ilyushin IL-62 passenger jet and a Antonov AN-124 cargo plane flew from Moscow via Syria.
  • The planes carried 100 soldiers, Vasily Tonkoshkurov, chief of staff of the ground forces, and 35 tons of equipment, according to independent local journalist Javier Mayorca.
  • Russian state news agency Sputnik said the planes brought equipment and personnel to fulfill technical military contracts.
  • A Venezuelan official said Russian military officials were visiting to discuss equipment training and maintenance, as well as strategy.

The cargo plane left Venezuela on Sunday.

Read more: What's at stake for Russia in Venezuela?

Watch video 26:06

Power struggle in Venezuela: Who's winning?

'Unconstructive behavior'

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday called on Russia to "cease its unconstructive behavior," according to the State Department. Its statement did not specifically mention Saturday's reported arrival, but slammed any Russian military support for the "illegitimate regime of [acting President] Nicolas Maduro.

Pompeo also warned his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in a phone call that "the United States [...] will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela," the statement from his office said.

Lavrov said in a statement that he had criticized what he called "attempts by Washington to organize a coup d'etat in Venezuela" in the call with Pompeo. The statement described such attempts as "violations of the UN charter and undisguised interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state." 

Read more: How to resolve the Venezuelan debt conundrum

Key ally: Venezuela's Maduro believes the US is attempting to overthrow the government through military means and install opposition leader Juan Guaido. Russia has emerged as a key ally of Maduro in his efforts to maintain his grip on power.

Previous deliveries: Russia had already sent two Tu-160 strategic bombers to Venezuelain December to support Maduro. Three months ago the two nations held military exercises in Venezuela, which were criticized by Washington as Russian encroachment in the region.

Holding on: Acting President Maduro has refused to step down despite dozens of nations pressuring him to do so. In January, Guaido declared himself interim president, saying elections in 2018 were rigged.

tj, aw/ng (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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