Russian Federation sends military planes to Venezuela

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

Flightradar24, a flight-tracking site, showed the flight path Saturday of what it listed as a Russian air force plane, apparently headed to Caracas while flying across the Caribbean.

"[The Russian military personnel] has arrived to take part in bilateral consultations", the source said when asked about the possible arrival of two aircraft with the Russian military.

A group of Russian military personnel have arrived in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas to take part in consultations with country's officials on defence industry cooperation, a diplomatic source in Caracas told Sputnik.

A Ilyushin IL-62 passenger jet and a Antonov AN-124 cargo plane flew from Moscow via Syria.

He said the planes offloaded around 100 Russian soldiers led by General Vasily Tonkoshkurov, head of the Mobilization Directorate of Russia's armed forces, and disembarked 35 tons of equipment.

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Russian military officials are visiting to discuss equipment maintenance and training, and strategy, the official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

A journalist with AFP reported seeing one of the planes on the tarmac at Maiquetia Airport, with a Russian flag on its fuselage and being protected by Venezuelan National Guardsmen. Russian Federation has emerged as a key ally of Maduro in his efforts to maintain his grip on power.

Moscow supports Maduro in his tense battle for control of the Venezuelan government with opposition figure and self-declared interim President Juan Guaido, who is backed by Washington and many European countries. Maduro has denounced the sanctions as USA interventionism and has won diplomatic backing from Russian Federation and China.

Previous deliveries: Russian Federation already sent two Tu-160 strategic bombers to Venezuelain December to support Maduro.

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