Russian Strategic Bombers in Venezuela Spark Diplomatic Row
By VOA News December 11, 2018
The United States is blasting Russia for deploying two strategic bombers to Venezuela for war games.
"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," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Tuesday.
The Kremlin responded to Pompeo's comments, calling them "unacceptable" and "highly undiplomatic for a secretary of state."
Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the U.S. has no business criticizing the money being spent on the drills, saying just half of the U.S. defense budget could feed all of Africa.
Two Russian planes capable of carrying nuclear bombs landed in Venezuela Monday for what Venezuelan officials call air force drills designed to bolster its defense capabilities.
Russia also sent about 100 pilots and other military personnel.
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 socialist government.
The United States has been fiercely critical of Maduro and what it calls his rigged elections and corrupt policies that suppress human rights and free speech.
The collapse in world energy prices has also left oil-rich Venezuela's economy in tatters. Many basic foods and medicine are in severely short supply and thousands of Venezuelans flee the country every day.
Maduro blames his country's problems on the United States and what he says is its support for the opposition.
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