RUSSIAN bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons have landed in Venezuela in a show of force against the US, as fears of all-out World War 3 heighten.
The pair of TU-160 supersonic bombers, known as “White Swans” by Russian pilots, landed at Maiquetia airport near Caracas on Monday after covering more than 6,200 miles. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent the fighter bombers in as a show of support for the South American country’s government in direct warning to Donald Trump’s America Russia’s Defence Ministry said the bombers were accompanied by two other Russian military planes, but did not say if the planes were carrying missiles, how long they would stay for, or what their mission was. The show of strength comes just days after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose left-wing administration is the most significant US foe in Latin America, held talks with Mr Putin in Moscow.
The move prompted fury in the US, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo branding the decision as “corrupt”.
He posted on Twitter: “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.”
The Kremlin fired back on Tuesday and rejected Mr Pompeo’s criticism, describing it as “highly undiplomatic” and “completely inappropriate.”
Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “As for the idea that we are squandering money, we do not agree.
“It’s not really appropriate for a country half of whose defence budget could feed the whole of Africa to be making such statements.”
As OPEC member Venezuela’s socialist-run economy implodes, Russia has become a key lender of last resort, investing in its oil industry and providing support to its military.
The world is on the brink of World War 3 as President Putin continues to flex its military muscle with a stream of military programmes in direct threat to the US.
Russia has previously used Venezuela in a show of strength under the nose of the US, delighting Venezuelan officials who have cast such flights as evidence it is able to defend itself, with help from its allies’, in the event of an attack.
President Maduro has frequently warned of the possibility of a US invasion in the South American nation, a claim which Washington denies.
The South American leader said talks with Mr Putin in Moscow this month yielded Russian investment in the South American country’s oil and gold sectors.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told his Venezuelan counterpart at the time that such long-range flights provided pilots with excellent experience and helped maintain the planes’ combat readiness.