A pair of Tu-160 bombers, known as Blackjack”, landed in Caracas on Monday following a 6,200-mile flight, which is said to be aimed at showcasing Moscow’s growing military prowess and shoring up the position of Venezuela’s embattled president, Nicolás Maduro.
The planes touched down at the Simón Bolívar international airport as part of a larger fleet also including an An-124 military transport plane and an Il-62 passenger jet
The Russian defense ministry said the bombers were shadowed by Norwegian F-18 fighter jets during part of their flight.
Venezuela’s defense minister, Vladimir Padrino López, said the arrival of the aircraft for joint maneuvers was not intended as a provocation. “We are makers of peace, not war,” he was quoted as saying by the state broadcaster Venezolana de Televisión (VTV).
Russia’s ambassador in Caracas, Vladimir Zaemskiy, told VTV the deployment reflected the “very fruitful” military partnership that had developed since the relationship was forged by Venezuela’s late leader Hugo Chávez in 2005.
However, specialists say the move is designed to signal to Washington that Caracas is not without international support.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at last week’s meeting with Lopez that Russia would continue to send its military aircraft and warships to visit Venezuela as part of bilateral military cooperation.
Russia sent its Tu-160 strategic bombers and a missile cruiser to visit Venezuela in 2008 amid tensions with the US after Russia’s brief war with Georgia. A pair of Tu-160s also visited Venezuela in 2013.
Source: Press TV