Russian fighter jets in Venezuela raise tensions between Kremlin, US

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Caracas, Dec 11 (IANS) Tensions between Kremlin and the US on Tuesday continued to rise as two Russian bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons landed in Venezuela in a show of support for the government of socialist President Nicolás Maduro.

The long-range strategic bombers landed at Simón Bolívar Airport outside of the Venezuelan capital on Monday along with two other Russian planes. A pair of jets also visited in 2013.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move amounted to “two corrupt governments squandering public funds and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer”, while the Russian government, in response on Tuesday, called his words “completely inappropriate”, the BBC reported.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the claims were completely inappropriate and not very diplomatic. He went on to say that it was out of place for the US to make such remarks when half of the American defence budget could feed the African continent.

Peskov also said that Russia wished to establish a constructive relationship with the US and that he had faith that both states would see eye to eye, according to Efe news.

Venezuela and Russia have long been close allies and the arrival of the planes came just days after Maduro met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino said the planes were part of Air Force exercises with its Russian allies: “This we are going to do with our friends, because we have friends in the world who defend respectful balanced, relations.”

“We are preparing to defend Venezuela to the last inch when necessary,” the minister said in a reference to his government’s frequent accusations that imperialist powers were trying to topple it.

Maduro said on Sunday that there was an attempt under way “directly co-ordinated from the White House to disturb democratic life in Venezuela and to try to launch a coup d’etat against the constitutional, democratic and free government of our country”.

–IANS

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