US-Russia tensions mount over warplanes in Venezuela


US-Russia tensions mount over warplanes in Venezuela

Bill Van Auken

12 December 2018

The landing of two Russian long-range strategic bombers at an airport outside of the Venezuelan capital of Caracas Monday touched off a bitter exchange between US and Russian officials, underscoring the increasingly tense and dangerous relations that prevail between the world’s two major nuclear powers.

The supersonic bombers, Tupolev Tu-160 aircraft, capable of carrying short-range nuclear missiles, were accompanied by an AN-124 transport aircraft and an Il-62 passenger jet, together with 100 pilots and other Russian personnel. All had made the flight of over 10,000 km (6,200 miles), in what constituted both a show of support for the government of President Nicolas Maduro and an exercise in the long-range projection of Russian military power.

Washington responded with a series of bitter denunciations. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted a criticism of Russia for sending its bombers “half way around the world to Venezuela,” adding that, “The people of Russia and Venezuela should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds, and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer.”

Similarly, a Pentagon spokesman condemned the exercise. Col. Robert Manning portrayed the US military’s posture toward Latin America as a “humanitarian” enterprise, calling attention to the recent tour of the region by the Navy hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, which made a propaganda-driven port of call in Colombia to treat migrants from Venezuela. The cynicism of this gesture is made plain by the deployment of US troops on the US-Mexican border to prevent refugees and immigrants from the violence-torn and impoverished US semi-colonies in Central America…

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