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Russian Strategic Bombers in Venezuela Spark Diplomatic Row

Voice of America
12 Dec 2018, 07:05 GMT+10

Russia has denounced the U.S.' 'highly undiplomatic' reaction to its deployment of two bomber planes capable of carrying nuclear weapons to Venezuela for military exercises.

'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,' U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

Two Russian strategic bombers landed in the South American country on Monday for what the Venezuelan government said were air force drills designed to bolster the defense capabilities of the leftist-ruled country.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Pompeo's response was 'highly undiplomatic for a secretary of state' and said Pompeo's remarks were 'unacceptable.'

Peskov said he disagreed with Pompeo's remarks about funds and added, 'its probably not very appropriate for a country to make such statements when half its defense budget could feed the whole of Africa.'

Moscow also deployed about 100 pilots and other personnel and two additional aircraft.

The commander of Russia's strategic aircraft, General Sergei Kobylash, said the drills 'will help us understand better how Venezuela's pilots are organized and trained.'

Russia sent the planes after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro held talks in Moscow last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has expressed support for the troubled government.

Maduro's administration is the most significant U.S. adversary in Latin America. As the economy of the oil-rich nation implodes, Russia has invested in Venezuela's oil sector and provided support for its military.

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