A Venezuelan top official confirmed the fact of Russian military’s arrival in the country. According to him, the visit is part of ‘military cooperation between the two allies’.
In particular, representatives of the Russian armed forces are going to take part in negotiations on the Venezuelan army’s military training and strategy and discuss maintenance issues, Deutsche Welle quotes the official who asked not to reveal his identity.
Two Russian air force planes landed in Venezuela’s main airport on Saturday carrying a Russian defense official and nearly 100 troops, Reuters reported with reference to a local journalist. Reporter Javier Mayorca wrote on Twitter that the first plane carried Vasily Tonkoshkurov, chief of staff of the ground forces, adding that the second was a cargo plane carrying 35 tonnes of material. The Russian troops’ will stay in Caracas and provide support to the Venezuelan army, the journalist added.
In late January, mass protesting against president Nicolas Maduro erupted in Venezuela. Juan Guaido, the leader of the opposition National Assembly, declared himself acting president during an opposition rally in Caracas. The United States, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay and the Vatican officially acknowledged Guaido as a legitimate interim head of Venezuela while Russia, Mexico and Bolivia failed to recognize his legitimacy.
On January 25, news agency Reuters reported with reference to sources familiar with the situation that members of the so-called Wagner private military company headed for Venezuela to guard Nicolas Maduro. The grouping of Russian mercenaries led by Commander Dmitry Utkin is supposedly financed by Evgeny Prigozhin whose nickname is ‘Putin’s Chef’. Wagner is supposedly fighting for separatists in Donbas and for al-Assad in Syria. In turn, the Kremlin denied the reports about Russia’s military being involved in the developments in Venezuela.