Russian troops land in Venezuela: reports

Two Russian Air Force planes landed in Venezuela carrying nearly 100 troops and a Russian defense official, according to Reuters.

Flight-tracking website Flightradar24 indicated an Ilyushin IL-62 passenger jet and an Antonov AN-124 military cargo plane both departed from Russian military airport Chkalovsky for Caracas on Friday, according to the news service.

{mosads}The two nations conducted military exercises on Venezuelan soil three months ago, which President Nicolás Maduro praised as an indicator of stronger ties between the two countries, according to Reuters.

Vasily Tonkoshkurov, chief of staff of the ground forces, was on the first plane, according to a tweet from Venezuelan reporter Javier Mayorca, while the second was a cargo plane carrying 35 metric tons of unspecified materials.

A Venezuelan official told The Associated Press that Russian military officials visited the nation to discuss training, strategy and equipment.

Last week, U.S. and Russian officials held talks on Venezuela but remained split on the legitimacy of Maduro’s government. Russia backs Maduro, who took office in 2013, while the U.S. was one of the first nations to recognize National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president.

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