On March 23, the Spanish-speaking media reported that Russian Major General Vasily Tonkoshkurov arrived in the evening at the Maiquetía "Simón Bolívar" International Airport, Venezuela. According to these reports, Tonkoshkurov arrived on board of an Ilyushin Il-62 aircraft, with 99 Russian soldiers. He was received by Marianny Mata Quijada, director general of the Office of Integration and International Affairs, and the director of the Special Action Forces of Venezuela (FAES), Edgar Colina Reyes. In addition, an air force Antonov-124 plane with 35 tons of cargo also landed in Maiquetía.
In a public statement, President of Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly Diosdado Cabello confirmed the arrival of the two Russian planes. "Two jets from Russia have landed in Venezuela, which was approved by the only legal government in Venezuela - the government of Nicolas Maduro," Cabello said in a statement aired by the Venezolana de Television TV channel.
Answering to the criticism of the Organization of American States (OAS) to the he arrival of Russian military aircrafts to Venezuela, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza wrote in his Twitter account: "Staggering hypocrisy of regional governments that support the placement of US military bases and personnel… and that dare to speak out against the military-technical cooperation between Venezuela and Russia in place since 2001…"
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also scorned the OAS reaction: "We are not surprised by a politically motivated statement from the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States, in which Russia is accused without reason of military incursion into the Venezuelan territory and violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty."
On March 27, US President Donald Trump called on Russia to pull its troops from Venezuela and stressed that "all options" are open. "Russia has to get out," Trump said. Asked how Washington would compel Russian forces to leave, Trump answered: "We'll see. All options are open."
According to the influential Russian blogger El-Murid, the Russian decision to dispatch two planes to Venezuela shows that Russia is keen to transform a civil conflict into an international military confrontation.
Below are excerpts from El-Murid's article:
The Russian Regime's Legitimacy Is No Different From The One Of The Venezuelan Narco-President
"… There is no need to give any explanation about the purpose of the arrival, the nature of the cargo brought or how long the military will remain in Venezuela.
"The caveat is that, if we are talking about the creation of any (even if temporary) base for Russian troops, this is directly contradicts the Constitution of Venezuela, and, [if so], Maduro is in fact committing one of the gravest state crimes. Probably, for this reason, there has been an agreement on keeping silent. On the other hand, the seizure of power by Maduro already makes his presidency illegitimate, so that one crime more or crime less - he has no options left anyway.
"The question of the goals of the arrival of Russian troops in Venezuela is certainly important for us. Lengthy and abstract discussions about national interests, power projection and other spirit-lifting things nevertheless require at least some explanation and specifics. It is one thing when a military base is placed in a stable and friendly country, a different thing is when is placed in a country torn by disasters and civil conflict, whose leadership does not look stable and legitimate, and [moreover] the nature of the accusations against its leadership (quite grave accusations by the way) demonstrates the purely criminal nature of the regime that gave Russia consent for the deployment of a military base.
"Given the above, it is logical to assume that Russia inevitably will get sucked in to someone else's civil conflict with the prospect of its developing into an international military confrontation. At the same time, any successor regime to the current one, will be objectively forced to denounce all the agreements and arrangements of the previous one as void and unsuited to Venezuela's national interests …
"Certainly, if in Russia we had at least some sort of semblance of parliamentary, public or whatever control over the government, such questions today would be asked quite loudly and publicly. Fortunately, in our country we have a banal banana dictatorship, where the highest valor is servile devotion. And therefore no one will ever think to ask questions, or answer to them. In this regard, logically, the Russian regime, in terms of legitimacy, is not different from the Venezuelan narco-president. We have exactly the same leader of the country, wiping his feet on the Constitution, just like over there. The Russian president won the last two terms (prudently increased by the previous president to a full three 'old' ones) as a result of a conspiracy that was committed openly and brazenly, but under the country's existing judicial system, the Court chose to ignore the clearly punishable act, opening the way to the seizure and usurpation of power. So, related regimes, of course, are forced to help each other, even if national interests or constitutional provisions fundamentally contradict their actions.
"Unfortunately, the reality is such that the Russian authorities have every opportunity to carry out acts of adventurism that are bleeding the country in the interests of the paltry ruling bunch, which is enriching itself with the looting and impoverishment of the country and of the people. Venezuela is just another illustrative example of the fact that this group's interests stand above any other consideration, but these people do not give, and are not going to give, any account of their actions, endlessly despising their people, who are ordered to approve any insane plans of the ruling regime."