Russia, Venezuela lash out after US criticisms of bomber deployment

Moscow and Caracas on Tuesday derided U.S. criticisms of Russia sending two nuclear capable bombers to Venezuela, which has been in crisis as its economy implodes.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Monday announced that it had sent two Tu-160 supersonic bombers to the Maiquetia airport outside Caracas, along with a heavy-lift An-124 Ruslan cargo plane and an Il-62 passenger plane.

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The deployment, the first time Russian bombers deployed to the country since 2013, came after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro held talks with Russian President President Vladimir Putin in Moscow earlier this month.

The Tu-160 is capable of carrying nuclear or conventional missiles with ranges of up to 3,410 miles, and can fly more than 7,500 miles without refueling.

On Monday night, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoFormer British governor: China has betrayed Hong Kong The other dangerous virus infecting our country Hong Kong police fire tear gas at pro-democracy demonstrators MORE lashed out at the deployment on Twitter, calling it an example of “two corrupt governments.”

“#Russia's government has sent bombers halfway around the world to #Venezuela. The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds, and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer,” he wrote.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, drew a contrast between its response to the crisis — sending a Navy hospital ship known as the USNS Comfort — and Russia’s deployment.

The Comfort deployed to Central and South America for 11 weeks starting Oct. 11 to help relieve medical systems in countries where Venezuelans are migrating to amid the crisis.

"Contrast this with Russia, whose approach to the man-made disaster in Venezuela is to send bomber aircraft instead of humanitarian assistance,” Col. Rob Manning told reporters Monday.

On Tuesday, Venezuela’s foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, shot back at Pompeo, saying his reaction to the deployment was “not only disrespectful but also cynical” because of the number of U.S. military bases abroad.

“It’s outrageous that the US gov’t questions our sovereign right to defense and security cooperation with other countries when @realDonaldTrump has threatened us publicly with a military intervention. If you want to cooperate, lift your sanctions against Venezuela,” Arreaza tweeted.

The Kremlin also rejected Pompeo’s criticisms, calling them “highly undiplomatic” and “completely inappropriate.”

“As for the idea that we are squandering money, we do not agree. It’s not really appropriate for a country half of whose defense budget could feed the whole of Africa to be making such statements,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to Reuters