Two Russian Air Force planes carrying around 100 members of the Russian military and a handful of strategic advisers landed in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, in a shockingly overt demonstration of support from Vladimir Putin’s government for embattled socialist president Nicolas Maduro.
Reuters reports that the two planes took off from Russia Friday and landed in Caracas on Saturday. A third plane left Russia on Sunday and is expected to arrive in Venezuela on Monday. All three planes are carrying Russian troops as well as high-placed military advisers who are reportedly in Venezuela to advise Maduro on how to handle the country’s ongoing crisis.
“The flights carried officials who arrived to ‘exchange consultations,'” according to Russian state media, via Reuters. “Russia has various contracts that are in the process of being fulfilled, contracts of a technical military character.”
The BBC added that reporters on the ground saw around 35 tons of equipment offloaded from the planes but could not identify the cargo. Maduro told Venezuelan state media last week that Russia intended to bring “medicine” to the ailing country, which has blocked all aid from the United States, Canada and other western nations. Russian officials were mum on what the shipments contain.