Russia Lands Two Air Force Planes In Venezuela, Official Says

Activists walk past the front of the Trump International Hotel during the Hands Off Venezuela! 16 March 2019 Washington

Russia Will Continue to Expand Energy Defence Cooperation With Venezuela Despite US Pressure- Deputy FM

Russian aircraft arrived in Caracas this weekend as part of ongoing military cooperation between the two allies, a Venezuelan official said Sunday.

The Venezuelan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Russian military officials have come to discuss equipment maintenance, training, and strategy.

Two Russian air force planes landed at Caracas airport on Saturday, flight tracking showed. Deeper Russian involvement in opposing USA aims in Venezuela will attract greater US pressure on Venezuela and will escalate American regime-change efforts in the country into another facet of great power competition between the United States and Russia. The Ilyushin IL-62 passenger jet had flown from Moscow via Syria, where Russian Federation supports President Bashar Assad.

That comes three months after the two nations held military exercises on Venezuelan soil that President Nicolas Maduro called a sign of strengthening relations, but which Washington criticized as Russian encroachment in the region.

The reports could not be independently confirmed.

An AFP journalist early on Sunday saw one of the planes on the tarmac at Maiquetia airport, with a Russian flag on its fuselage. Maduro has denounced the sanctions as USA interventionism and has won diplomatic backing from Russian Federation and China.

The official on March 24 appeared to confirm media reports that said Russian military jets carrying defense officials and almost 100 troops had landed in the South American country on March 23.

Russian Federation says it is concerned that the U.S.is considering military intervention in Venezuela.

Venezuela in February had blocked a convoy carrying humanitarian aid for the crisis-stricken country that was coordinated with the team of opposition leader Juan Guaido, including supplies provided by the United States, from entering via the border with Colombia. The U.S. says it is focusing on economic and diplomatic efforts to oust Maduro, though President Donald Trump has said "all options are on the table".

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