Spanish – Russian soldiers are moving around Venezuela on a “secret mission.” The reasons behind their incursions into the South American country are unknown. They wear the uniform of the Venezuelan Army, move freely through the territory, use barracks, helicopters, and drones.
A report by journalist Sebastiana Barráez, published in Infobae, revealed that a group of at least 18 Russians is staying in a hotel in the state of Táchira on the border with Colombia.
“Visten el uniforme del Ejército venezolano, se desplazan libremente por el territorio, usan cuarteles, helicópteros y drones, realizan pruebas y mapas” https://t.co/ITIr6p1QRI
— María Fernanda Cabal (@MariaFdaCabal) January 14, 2020
According to the report, Venezuelan military personnel is reportedly guarding the Russian soldiers who are wearing Venezuelan Army uniforms.
This is not the first time that Russians have traveled to the state of Táchira for military work. According to Barráez, in August 2019, a group of nearly 80 soldiers installed radars, antennas that block telecommunications signals, and flew drones in a military battalion.
But the border state is not the only one that hosts unexplained Russian soldiers. In Caracas, the Círculo Militar (Military Circle) specifically hosts many Russians. Similarly, they are also in the Strategic Operational Command of the Bolivarian National Armed Force (Ceofanb) and in the facilities of the Ministry of Defense and the Army Command. In Bolivar, the mining state of Venezuela, Russian soldiers have also been on missions.
Andrés Velasquez, an opposition leader from whom Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship snatched the governorship of the state amid an electoral fraud, denounced that the Russians intend to “occupy plots in the Mining Arch of Death.”
DFRLab has monitored the deployment of the Russian army in Venezuela since the beginning of 2019. In April, it reported the landing of Russian military personnel in Caracas, supported by photographs.
Rumors of Russian troops in Venezuela have been around since late 2018, but concrete evidence of their permanent deployment has been scarce.
“Low-level government officials and some military officials say the Russians are specialists who were sent to Venezuela to deal with the air defense systems that Venezuela bought from Russia since the time Hugo Chávez was president,” Barráez said.
The Foreign Ministry of that country has said in the presence of the Russian military in Venezuela that they are “Russian specialists on Venezuelan territory.” This presence is supposedly “regulated by the Technical and Military Cooperation Agreement signed in May 2001 by the Governments of Russia and Venezuela and ratified at the time by both countries.”