Monday, November 24, 2008

Russian warships approach Venezuela under US gaze

Russian warships approached Venezuela Monday for upcoming joint maneuvers -- Moscow's first military presence in the region since the Cold War -- as Washington closely monitored the situation.

Venezuelan defense officials said the ships, including the nuclear-powered cruiser Peter the Great and destroyer Admiral Chabankenko, would arrive on Tuesday.

The joint exercises were to coincide with a two-day visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Venezuela, the strongest US critic in the region.

The Russian warships were due to sail into La Guaira, near Caracas, and Puerto Cabello in northern Carabobo state.

The fleet includes five aircraft and several small ships, and Venezuela will provide eight aircraft and 11 ships, Gonzalez said Monday, adding that 1,150 Russian forces and 600 Venezuelans would take part in the exercises.

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