Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, left, and Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev visit the Admiral Chabanenko, a Russian destroyer docked at La Guaira port, Venezuela, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008. Medvedev agreed to help start a nuclear energy program in Venezuela and then departed for Cuba Thursday in a tour aimed at restoring ties that have dwindled since the Cold War.(AP Photo/ RIA Novosti, Dmitry Astakhov, Presidential Press Service)
Russian warships have ended training exercises with Venezuela’s navy in Moscow’s first such Caribbean deployment since the Cold War.
Russian television on Tuesday showed images of a Venezuelan-operated Sukhoi fighter jet swooping low over Russian warships in a simulated air attack.
The exercises that ended late Monday with a fireworks display included an air defense exercise and joint actions to spot, pursue and detain an intruding vessel, Russian navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo said.
The Russian ships arrived in Venezuela last week in an operation widely seen as a show of Kremlin anger over the U.S. decision to deliver aid to Georgia aboard warships following that country’s conflict with Russia.
President Hugo Chavez has said the naval exercises weren’t meant as a provocation to the United States or any other nation. He has praised Russia for raising its profile in the Americas, while saying the U.S. Navy’s recently reactivated Fourth Fleet poses a threat to Venezuela.
U.S. officials says the Fourth Fleet, which was dissolved after World War II, will help maintain security in the Caribbean and Latin America while performing humanitarian missions and counter-drug operations.
This week’s joint naval exercises featured helicopters dropping special forces soldiers onto a ship as if it had been “seized by terrorists,” according to a report on state-run Rossiya television.
Russia sent the nuclear-powered cruiser Peter the Great, the destroyer Admiral Chabanenko and support ships, and Russian television said they were joined by three Venezuelan frigates for the exercises, dubbed “Venrus 2008.”
Rossiya television reported that the Venezuelan warships returned home and the Russian squadron left the area. It broadcast footage of a farewell fireworks display and Russian sailors waving their caps in a farewell gesture. – ap
Red Dawn II, the sequel? What about those 200 missing Soviet nukes back in 2002? Russia says this was just a false accusation by the US, that nothing went missing. Now they tell us, after we spent all that money keeping the nukes out of the hands of terrorists. Will the 1.6 billion we spent in Russia come back to bite us in the butt?