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Russia sends bomber planes to Venezuela

US reacts strongly to move accusing both countries of squandering public funds

11.12.2018
Russia sends bomber planes to Venezuela

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW

Two Russian bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons landed in Venezuela last night amid strong criticism by U.S. officials.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday two bombers Tu-160, a strategic airlift jet aircraft An-124 and a jet airliner Il-62 had been sent to Venezuela.

The move is aimed to train Venezuela to defend itself against any aggression, said Russian Defense Minister Padrino Lopez.

In a strong reaction, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet: "The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds, and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer."

Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov characterized the U.S. official's comment as "inappropriate" and "undiplomatic".

"To make such statements about the country, half of the defense budget of which can feed the whole of Africa, is not quite appropriate," Peskov said.

He added that U.S. President Donald Trump would soon assess Pompeo's words, hinting at a recent tweet in which he called Rex Tillerson, the former secretary of state, "dumb as a rock and lazy as hell".

"As we know, over time, the president of the U.S. gives an assessment of the secretaries of state, maybe such an assessment will follow in relation to such non-diplomatic remarks of Mr. Pompeo too," he said.

The situation in Venezuela has been unstable since the death of former President Hugo Chavez in 2013.

The West has accused his successor Nicolas Maduro of usurping power, a charge he denies.

Instead, Maduro accuses the U.S. of orchestrating his attempted assassination at an inauguration ceremony in August 2018.

Meanwhile, Russia is interested in reviving connections in Latin America, to deploy its military infrastructure closer to the U.S. borders as Washington keeps sending its military advisers to Ukraine.

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