7D news London – Reuters/AFP . Sun, 24 Mar 2019 19:36 GMT
Two Russian air force planes carrying a Russian defence official and nearly 100 troops, landed in Venezuela’s main airport on Saturday March 23th, amid strengthening ties between Caracas and Moscow.
As reported by Reuters, a flight-tracking website showed that two planes left from a Russian military airport bound for Caracas on Friday, March 22nd, and another flight-tracking site showed that one plane left Caracas on Sunday March 24th.
The new arrangements between the two countries comes three months after they held military exercises on Venezuelan soil, that President Nicolas Maduro called a sign of strengthening relations, but which Washington criticized as Russian encroachment in the region.
Venezuelan journalist, Javier Mayorca, wrote on Twitter on Saturday March 23rd, that the first plane carried Vasily Tonkoshkurov, chief of staff of the ground forces, adding that the second was a cargo plane carrying 35 tonnes of material.
An Ilyushin IL-62 passenger jet, and an Antonov AN-124 military cargo plane, left for Caracas on Friday March 22nd, from the Russian military airport Chkalovsky, stopping along the way in Syria, according to flight-tracking website Flightradar24.
The cargo plane left Caracas on Sunday afternoon, March 24th, according to Adsbexchange, another flight-tracking site.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported what appeared to be the passenger jet at the Maiquetia airport on Sunday March 24th. It was not immediately evident why the planes had come to Venezuela.
Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Russia’s defence ministry and foreign ministry did not reply to messages seeking a comment. The Kremlin spokesman also did not reply to a request for comment by Reuters.