Russia sent an air force plane to Venezuela and one of its most advanced warships to Cuba on Monday in support of both socialist dictatorships.
A Russian air force plane landed in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas on Monday, according to witnesses from the Reuters news agency. The arrival came just three months after Russia landed two air force planes carrying defense officials and around 100 troops, leading to the U.S. accusing Moscow of engaging in “reckless escalation” of the ongoing country’s political power struggle.
Russia has in recent years positioned itself as a steadfast backer of Nicolás Maduro’s socialist regime, providing vital financial, diplomatic, and military support to the regime amid the country’s worsening economic and humanitarian crisis.
In Cuba, one of the Russian navy’s most advanced warships, the Admiral Gorshkov, docked in Havana on Monday, where it was greeted with a 21-gun salute from the Cuban military located at the entrance to the Bay of Havana.
According to PBS, the Admiral Gorshkov “armed with cruise missiles, air defense systems, and other weapons” and is the “first ship in a new class of frigates intended to replace aging Soviet-era destroyers to project power far away from Russian shores.”
Moscow has also become a crucial ally of Cuba’s communist regime, evoking shades of Havana’s alliance with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Last year, Vladimir Putin agreed to loan the country $50 million in order to purchase new military equipment such as armored vehicles, helicopters, and other weapons. However, Russian officials have repeatedly expressed concern at both Cuba’s and Venezuela’s abilities to repay their debts, as their respective economies remain in dire straits as a result of their socialist economic policies.
In April, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov announced that Russia would do everything possible to help both Cuba and Venezuela overcome the economic difficulties caused by their socialist regimes, blaming U.S. sanctions for them while reaffirming Moscow’s resolute opposition to the Trump administration’s attempts to instigate transitions to democracy in both countries.
“We are concerned over the continuing actions by the United States toward the countries of the Latin American region. We see the sanctions as absolutely unlawful and illegitimate,” he said at the time. “We will oppose them. Venezuela and Cuba are our allies and strategic partners in the region. We will do everything we can to let them feel our support.”