Have Russian military planes in Venezuela cleared the door to “America’s backyard”?

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At an international press conference on December 12 in Caracas, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro spoke emphatically on the knowledge his government had acquired through its intelligence services of preparations to destabilize Venezuela.

This in itself is major news, but it should be noted that his denunciation comes just two days after the much publicized Russian military planes landed at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Maiquetía in Venezuela as part of exercises and Russian-Venezuelan joint military training. This is not the first time that military cooperation between Russia and Venezuela has occurred, but it does appear to be the first time such news has had enough impact on Washington to provoke a strong, non-diplomatic reaction from the secretary. of American State, Mike Pompeo, who referred to the two countries as “two corrupt governments squander public funds“in a tweet.

Is Russia making a major gaping hole in “America’s backyard” with help from Venezuela? It appears to be the case, and Venezuela is certainly a fairly wide door in geopolitical terms capable of countering the political reversals of some countries in the region surrendering to neoliberal ideology.

Russia’s display of support for Venezuela is not entirely surprising for two reasons. First, the US government has pursued a very aggressive policy against Russia by pushing the NATO military coalition out of the front yard of Russia despite the “iron guarantee” given by the US administration in February 1990 to the president. Soviet of the Gorbachev era that “NATO will not expand an inch. Aggression continues today with the possibility of including Ukraine and Belarus in the NATO military alliance Moscow indicates that it has the will and the capacity to deal with the military threat from Washington in its own territory.

Second, in addition to military threats against the two countries, the Trump administration has imposed sanctions on Russia and Venezuela, which also brings them closer as victims of the economic war. Military threats against Venezuela are much more threatening, so balancing help from a more powerful friend is welcome.

But the timing of help is also important to consider. Maduro will be sworn in as president of Venezuela for the next six years on January 10 following his re-election on May 20. It is a highly anticipated event not least because there have been “rumors” of major disruptions organized to prevent this from happening. Russia is sending a clear signal that it fully supports and supports the upcoming Maduro presidency.

However, the official position is that these are not just rumors and disruptions can include violent and terrorist tactics. To this end, President Maduro said at the press conference: “Today, I come once again to denounce the plot that is being prepared from the White House to violate Venezuelan democracy, to assassinate myself and to impose a dictatorial government in Venezuela.“Then he added more pointedly,”Mr John Bolton has again been appointed to lead the plot to turn Venezuela into violence and seek foreign military intervention, a coup, to assassinate President Maduro and impose what they call a ” transitional government council ”. I’m telling you this to reveal their plans to you. “

John Bolton is the United States’ national security adviser with a reputation for coining the term “tyranny troika” in reference to the democratically elected progressive governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Maduro’s statements are fully credible, mainly on the basis of specific details he provided. He revealed that a paramilitary group, called the G-8, is being trained in the municipality of Tona, north of Santander, Colombia. The group of 734 mercenaries, including Colombians and Venezuelans, are preparing to undertake false flag actions.

Another group of mercenaries is being trained to attack Venezuela in the US military case of Tolemida in Colombia, one of the 7 bases the US maintains in that country.

Maduro also revealed that another group of commandos are located at the US Air Force‘s Eglin base in Florida. This “special forces group is being trained for a surgical assault on Venezuelan air and military bases. Its objective is to disembark, capture and neutralize the Libertador de Palo Negro air base, the Puerto Cabello naval base and the Barcelona air base.

For the history of these facts, Maduro’s declarations and revelations were followed by an official diplomatic note of protest handed over by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza to the American charge d’affaires James Story in Caracas.

The deployment of Russian fighter jets in Venezuela – just one week after President Nicolas Maduro’s visit to Moscow – consists of two TU-160 long-range bombers with nuclear capabilities, an An-124 heavy military transport aircraft and an II -62 long-haul aircraft of the Russian aerospace forces. These are technologically advanced aircraft whose strength is still modest compared to 22 US military bases in Latin America and more than 800 around the world. However, the message that the action sends must be seen as a powerful deterrent to any military intervention in Venezuela, especially from Colombia.

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino explained: “We must tell the Venezuelan people and the whole world that… we are also preparing to defend Venezuela to the last degree when necessary.

Final thoughts

It has been approximately 115 years since the practice of the Monroe Doctrine established the United States’ unilateral right to dominance in Latin American countries. The first time the attribution was unsuccessfully challenged was in 1962 during the so-called Cuban Missile Crisis, when the Soviet Union attempted to deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba. The recent deployment of Russian military planes to Venezuela may not be so spectacular, but it is certainly of considerable importance for the reasons and timing mentioned above.

The American response needs to be more measured today because Washington does not have the full political hegemony in Latin America that it had in the 1960s so Venezuela retains a tactical advantage. At present, the so-called “America’s backyard” may not seem so inviolable, offering a new opening to the Bolivarian vision of the Patria Grande (Great Homeland).

US sanctions and military threats have certainly contributed to the strategic alliance between Russia and Venezuela. Another possible member of this resistance alliance is Iran, also subject to US sanctions and threats. In fact, the Islamic Republic of Iran has announced that it will soon send warships to Venezuela as a sign of strategic partnership.

What makes Russia’s presence in the region not only relevant but also valuable is its outstanding record in combining defense diplomacy and the balancing role successfully used in the Middle East to enable Syria to defeat terrorism, to a large extent, while simultaneously deterring the United States from militarily achieving regime change against the legitimate government of Bashar al-Assad.

Russia practices a remarkable two-pronged approach in its foreign policy that combines a responsible, non-hegemonic military force with careful maintenance of the balance of power in areas of particularly conflict. This is precisely what is needed in Latin America to preserve the peace, as opposed to the divide and rule approach used by US foreign policy.

More broadly, Russia and Venezuela share a common vision of a multi-polar world cooperating in areas of social, military and economic interest that replaces the suffocating hegemonic unipolar financial world dominated by the United States.

Finally, the American response to the deployment of Russian planes is not yet clear. The track record may suggest a diplomatic reaction such as formal denunciations to the UN or through the OAS, or the use of any tool of war ranging from more sanctions to infogar, hybrid war, including including false flag actions as announced by Maduro. But any attempt supported by the United States to prevent the swearing-in ceremony on January 10, or any subsequent attempt to destabilize Venezuela will have serious human consequences that the perpetrators will have to answer to the international community.

Nevertheless, Venezuela is not lowering its guard and is well aware that Russia is not there to put troops on the ground but only to provide assistance and training to the Venezuelan army in order to modernize its weapons systems.

If there was to be a military intervention or a hybrid war in Venezuela, Maduro has already given the basic instructions: “I order all of our Bolivarian National Armed Forces to be vigilant and to maintain maximum deployment, discipline, leadership and preparation, in order to defeat the imperial conspiracies and maintain the peace. Venezuela is counting on you! “And progressive Latin America, in turn, relies on Venezuela.

Nino Pagliccia is a Vancouver-based freelance activist and writer. He is a retired researcher from the University of British Columbia, Canada. He is a Venezuelan-Canadian who follows and writes on international relations with an emphasis on the Americas. He is the editor of the book “Cuba Solidarity in Canada – Five Decades of People-to-People Foreign Relations” (2014).

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the editorial staff of Venezuelanalysis.


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