Two Russian long-range strategic Tupolev 160 bombers arrived at Caracas' Simon Bolívar airport Monday to participate in exercises aimed at strengthening the country's defense, it was announced.
In addition to the bombers, two transport airplanes, an An-124 and an IL-62 of the Russian Aerospace Force, carrying about 100 Russian pilots and other personnel were welcomed at the military-civilian air base in the Maiquetía district by Venezuela's Defense Minister, General Vladimir Padrino López, who said the deployment showed we also are preparing to defend Venezuela to the last inch when necessary.
President Nicolas Maduro has vowed to release details of a US-led conspiracy to overthrow him.
Padrino noted that Russian aircraft had visited before in 2013, but said their current deployment was part of a new experience. He added that the exercises would be held to raise the level of interoperability of the aerospace defense systems of both countries.
The Russian aircraft traveled a distance of more than 10,000 kilometers and made the flight in full correspondence with the rules of the use of international airspace. Russian aircraft overflew the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Barents Seas, Norway and the Caribbean, it was reported.
In some parts of the route, the Tu-160 aircraft were accompanied by F-16 fighters from the Norwegian Air Force, it was disclosed.
On December 6, the Russian Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoigú, when meeting in Moscow with his Venezuelan counterpart, Vladimir Padrino López, highlighted the development of military cooperation between the two countries and affirmed that work is being done so that military aircraft and ships Russians can continue to use the aerodromes and ports of Venezuela within the framework of cooperation.
In recent years, Venezuela has purchased millions of dollars in military equipment from Russia.