On Monday, Vladimir Padrino López, Venezuela’s defense minister, announced the arrival of a contingent sent by the Russian Federation to his country for the purpose of carrying out joint air exercises with a view to the possible defense of the South American nation. The Russian fleet, which landed the same day at Maiquetía airport, consists of two Tu-160 bombers capable of transporting nuclear warheads, an An-124 transport plane, an Il-62 passenger jet, in addition to a total of around 100 troops who, as agreed with Moscow, will leave the South American country tomorrow.
This was to be another of the continuing joint military exercises that are carried out periodically by many states in the world in order to keep their defense capabilities at the ready, but it became a new cause of international friction because of the completely unjustified and inappropriate reaction of Donald Trump’s administration. First of all, Washington’s disproportionate reaction to the Russian-Venezuelan exercises is unwarranted because they are taking place so far from the U.S. border that any arguments regarding national security are invalid. In addition, they do not contravene any international laws or interfere in any way with the activities of a third nation. Similarly, it is important to stress the fact that the nuclear-capable Russian aircraft are not currently equipped with any such arms and do not therefore infringe the Treaty of Tlatelolco for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean.
But, to top it all off, the White House response is not only unfounded but also bears the mark of double standards and high levels of cynicism: U.S. Armed Forces participate regularly and take a lead role in the frequent war games that NATO plays in the Baltic, opposite Russia’s very coastline. They have also made deployments to and intervened in the unstable region of the Persian Gulf, and, to refer to a case that is shamefully close to home, they are currently deployed at the border with our country, a situation that was not brought about by any hostility or provocation from Mexico. In this last case, the use of Central American migrants facing a humanitarian disaster as a pretext for the world’s leading military power to declare a national security threat lays bare the paranoid demagoguery of the Trump rhetoric.
In contrast to the superpower’s unmotivated military mobilizations, Venezuela finds itself subjected to a suffocating and growing military, economic, diplomatic and propagandist attack orchestrated by the U.S. and its allies. This includes not only the sabotage of Venezuelan economic activities and explicit interference in its internal political affairs, but also direct threats of military intervention and incitements directed at the Bolivarian country’s armed forces to stage a coup.
In short, the condemnation made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and by the government he represents in the opposition to Russian-Venezuelan defense cooperation, is abominable insofar that it constitutes a new cause for concern regarding the desire of Washington to assume the role of arbitrator in the fate of all other nations and, in particular, those of the Latin American region.