A Russian air force plane carrying a defence official and nearly 100 troops landed at Venezuela's main airport on Saturday (local time), amid reports of strengthening ties between Caracas and Moscow.
Citing the local media, Japan Times reported that an Ilyushin IL-62 passenger jet left from a Russian military base to Caracas on Friday (local time), while an Antonov AN-124 military cargo plane left on Sunday (local time).
A video footage released by the Russian Defence Ministry, in December 2018, showed two Russian TU-160 strategic bombers returning home after conducting military drills with the Venezuelan Air Force jets over the Caribbean Sea. The drill, however, triggered strong criticisms from the United States and neighbouring Colombia, despite Moscow's claims that it was held in accordance with the international regulations.
Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that Russia would send medicine "next week" to Venezuela, amid reports of strengthening ties between Caracas and Moscow.
According to Al Jazeera, the Maduro regime in February had blocked a convoy carrying humanitarian aid from entering into Venezuela via the border with Colombia. He also ordered the closure of Venezuela's border with Brazil "until further notice" amid a tense standoff with the US-backed Opposition leader, Juan Guaido, over allowing in humanitarian aid.
The South American nation is crippled with a political and economic crisis since January after Guaido proclaimed himself as the President of the nation in January. While most European countries have recognised Guaido as the interim President, countries like Russia, China, Turkey, amongst others, have slammed foreign interference in Venezuela and shown support for Maduro.
Maduro, who is the elected President of the nation, decried the events and accused the US of plotting a coup to overthrow him by supporting Guaido. He continues to hold on to his post despite calls by the international community for fresh elections.
Amongst other sanctions, the US has previously proscribed Venezuela's state-owned oil and natural gas company PDVSA in a bid to stifle funding to the Maduro regime. (ANI)