A Venezuelan military attache in Moscow on Wednesday denied the U.S. military’s claim that Russia has deployed troops to Venezuela to support President Nicolas Maduro.
The claim is “ungrounded” and shows that the U.S. does “not know the details” of Russian-Venezuelan defence collaboration, Jose Rafael Torrealba Perez said in comments carried by Russian news agency Interfax.
Russia, one of the embattled Venezuelan government’s main allies, has previously admitted to sending technicians to the South American country to service military equipment under contract.
U.S. Admiral Craig Faller told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that Russia had sold nearly $9 billion of military equipment to Venezuela over the past decade, “including combat aircraft, tanks and surface-to-air missile systems’’.
He charged that “there are Russian troops, there are Russian defence contractors and their presence is in hundreds in Venezuela’’.
“Such Russian personnel are supporting the Maduro regime,’’ said Faller, Head of the U.S. Southern Command, which focuses on Central and South America.
“They are keeping Russian gear operable. They are conducting a full range of activities you would expect a foreign power to do to prop up their puppet regime,’’ Faller said.
Amid food and medicine shortages, Venezuela’s oil-dependent economy has teetered on the verge of collapse, inciting mass protests against Maduro.
The U.S. recognises opposition leader, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President.