Two Russian planes with 100 troops landed in Venezuela this weekend, Reuters reports, citing media reports and flight tracking websites. The move is the latest signal of strengthening ties between Caracas and Moscow amid growing pressure on the Maduro government from Washington.
It also comes three months after the Venezuelan and Russian army conducted joint military exercises in Venezuela. At the time, the U.S. government slammed the exercises as Russian “encroachment” in South America.
An explanation for the presence of the troops came from Russian state-owned news outlet Sputnik, which cited a source as saying, “Russia has various contracts that are in the process of being fulfilled, contracts of a technical military character.”
The news, however, will no doubt spark a reaction from Washington as the Venezuelan crisis continues with no resolution in sight despite the increasing pressure that the United States is piling up on the government in Caracas.
Yet the leader of the opposition and president of the national Assembly, Juan Guaido, said this weekend that the end of the Maduro government is in sight. The self-declared interim president who called for new elections told Reuters that allies of the Venezuelan opposition were in talks with high-ranking military personnel to switch sides as the army seems to be the factor that can tip the scales one way or another.
“They are isolated, alone, they are falling apart day by day,” Guaido said. “The citizens do not like them, they reject them, they hate them, because that is what they have received from them: hate.”
“The diplomatic pressure has worked, the economic pressure and the pressure on assets have worked,” Guaido also told Reuters.
Meanwhile, Nicolas Maduro is accusing the opposition leader and those around him of plotting to kill him with the support of the United States to assume control of Venezuela’s oil wealth.
By Irina Slav or Oilprice.com
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