Russian naval task force starts Venezuela visit

By RIA Novosti,

Moscow : A task force of Russia’s Northern Fleet led by the Pyotr Veliky missile cruiser arrived in Venezuela as part of a planned visit which will see the ships take part in joint naval drills, a naval spokesman said.

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“On Dec 1, the Russian warships will take part in joint naval exercises with the Venezuelan Navy,” Captain Igor Dygalo told reporters.

Dygalo said the exercises will take place in the Caribbean Sea and will involve joint maneuvers, inspections, rescue and resupply operations. The drills are due to be discussed by both sides during the Russian Navy’s visit to the Venezuelan port of La Guaira.

“Venezuela’s Navy will be represented by two or three ships. Two warships will act for the Russian side – the Pyotr Veliky and the [large anti-submarine vessel] Admiral Chabanenko – as well as support ships,” Dygalo said.

The task force left its Northern Fleet base Sep 22 and has called at the ports in Libya, Turkey and France.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the country’s air force, primarily a squadron of Russian-made Su-30MK2 fighters, could participate in the drills.

He said the exercises were not targeted against other countries. “This is cooperation between two sovereign countries that are rapidly converging strategically.”

“Cooperation with Russia in different fields is in line with the new realities of a multi-polar world,” he added.

The arrival of the Russian ships coincides with a visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Venezuela Nov 26-27.

Following the Latin American visit, the naval task force is due to take part in drills with ships from Russia’s Pacific Fleet in the Indian Ocean.