OREANDA-NEWS. On March 23, Russian military planes arrived to the capital of Venezuela Caracas. They set off from Syria and made a stopover in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.

An-124 and Il-62 military transport planes arrived in Caracas on March 23. There were 99 servicemen on board headed by the Chief of Staff of the Ground Forces Vasily Tonkoshkurov. Military men arrived together with 35 tons of cargo. It was not reported whether those were professional soldiers or mercenaries of private military companies (PMCs).

In early 2019, the media regularly reported on “suspicious” flights from Russia to Venezuela, while the purpose of these flights remained unclear.

Associated Press, citing a Venezuelan official, reports that the military group from Russia arrived in Venezuela as part of the ongoing military-technical cooperation (MTC) of the two countries. It is about discussing the conditions of maintenance and training of specialists who will work on Russian equipment delivered to the country. “They came for participation in bilateral consultations,” a diplomatic source in Caracas confirmed to Russian media, noting that they concern contracts concluded through the MTC as well.

Latin American media, in particular Colombian portal Webinfomil, Peruvian newspaper El Comercio, and the websites Noticiero Digital and Eha Medya reported that Russian servicemen were met upon arrival by the head of the Venezuelan International Cooperation and Integration Department Marianny Mata, the head of the special forces police Edgar Colina Reyes and the staff of the Russian embassy in Caracas.

In 2018, presidential elections were held in Venezuela, in which Nicolas Maduro won. The three most influential political forces of the country were excluded from participation in them. A few months before the inauguration, the opposition called for Maduro to resign. The political crisis escalated on January 10, 2019 - on the day of the inauguration, the President of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, declared Maduro’s illegitimacy, and declared himself interim president of Venezuela. The United States and many Western countries have recognized Guaido. Russia, China and several other countries supported Maduro.