Jets carrying dozens of Russian troops land in Venezuela

A woman waits for public transportation during a power outage that suspended the subway service in Caracas Venezuela Monday

Jets carrying dozens of Russian troops land in Venezuela

Two Russian air force planes landed at Venezuela's main airport on Saturday carrying a Russian defense official and almost 100 troops, according to media reports, amid strengthening ties between Caracas and Moscow.

American economist Steve Hanke tweeted a picture purportedly showing Russian troops on the ground at the airport next to an Ilyushin IL-62M, which is used for transporting military personnel.

"Russia's deployment of a small number of troops to Venezuela is akin to tripwire, not unlike the "small US troop presence" in the Baltics, which has deterred direct Russian military intervention in that region", said Cagapaty.

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.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Monday over a phone call to, "cease its unconstructive behavior", by continuing to aid Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The tense conversation came after Russian Federation sent 2 planes reportedly carrying around 100 soldiers and 35 tons of military equipment to Venezuela's main airport outside Caracas on Saturday.

Pompeo urged Russian Federation to "cease its unconstructive behavior" and support Guaido.

One independent Venezuelan journalist, Javier Mayorca, reported that the deployment also included General Vasily Tonkoshkurov, a top official who heads the Mobilization Directorate of Russia's armed forces.

The arrival of the planes comes three months after the two nations held joint military exercises.

The cargo plane left Caracas on Sunday afternoon, according to Adsbexchange, another flight-tracking site.

'Russia has various contracts that are in the process of being fulfilled, contracts of a technical military character, ' Sputnik quoted the source as saying.

A Reuters witness saw what appeared to be the passenger jet at the Maiquetia airport on Sunday.

The Russian embassy in Caracas declined to comment on the reports.

The Russian move is unlikely to alter U.S. strategy in the short-term however, said Ana Quintana of the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington. The United States and Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido say the blackouts were the result of years of government graft and incompetence.

President Nicolas Maduro blamed the earlier blackout on cyber "sabotage" by his US counterpart, Donald Trump, but former energy officials and local engineers told Reuters it was likely caused by a technical problem with transmission lines linking the Guri hydroelectric plant to the national power grid.

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