US cautions Russia over military mission in Venezuela

Venezuela Russia troops Nicolas Maduro cybersecurity

Russia sends military planes to Venezuela

"It would be wrong to suggest this is some kind of major deployment", another person said.

In a phone call with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Pompeo denounced the growing Russian military reinforcements as prolonging the political crisis in the South American country.

Authorities gave no immediate statements about the outage, which began shortly after 1 p.m. and appeared to have affected as many as 16 of Venezuela's 23 states, according to reports on social media.

Although Russian state news agency Sputnik described the troop arrival as a movement to "fulfill technical military contracts", the development unsettled Washington, which has thrown its weight behind opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president against President Nicolas Maduro.

A diplomatic source told RIA Novosti that Russian Federation and Venezuela have a number of ongoing contracts signed a few years ago, including ones in technical military cooperation, and the military personnel arrived to take part in bilateral consultations.

Associated Press journalists on Sunday went to Venezuela's main airport, just outside Caracas, but did not see Russian planes.

The cargo plane left Caracas on Sunday afternoon, according to Adsbexchange, another flight-tracking site.

The call appears to have been prompted by reports of the arrival on Sunday in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, of two Russian air force planes carrying a Russian defense official and almost 100 troops, amid strengthening ties between Caracas and Moscow.

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Venezuelan authorities offered no information about the flights.

The Organization of American States, a Washington-based diplomatic group for hemispheric affairs, in a statement called the presence of Russian military equipment and personnel "a harmful act to Venezuelan sovereignty".

Marrero, a 49-year-old lawyer, was arrested on Thursday in his Caracas home, triggering an outcry and demands that he be immediately released by the United States, the European Union and major Latin American countries that recognize Guaido as Venezuela's interim president.

"Such cynicism on the part of a country like the United States", wrote Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza on Twitter.

However, any Russian foothold in Latin America, especially Venezuela, would alarm the U.S. military.

Both Russia and China have given billions of dollars to Venezuela, essentially propping up Maduro.

"Clearly, Maduro's enablers in Moscow and Havana are pushing continued escalation with the end-goal of crushing the opposition once-and-for-all", said José Cárdenas, who served in the National Security Council under former President George W. Bush and regularly speaks with Trump administration officials. Maduro alleges that Guaido is a collaborator in a US -directed plot to overthrow him.

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