The danger of conflict over Venezuela is heating up.
International media has reported that Russia recently opened a center to “train military helicopter pilots” in Venezuela, a further sign of Vladimir Putin’s support for the Maduro regime.
According to reports, Russian personnel are also taking on repairs for the S-300 air-defense systems deployed in Venezuela that were put out of service recently due to country-wide blackouts. According to some unconfirmed reports, at least some of Venezuela’s S-300 batteries are back online.
Russia has been pretty upfront on its intent to be the guarantor of Maduro’s rule. A week ago, Russia’s parliament warned Venezuela’s neighbor Colombia not to get involved in Venezuela’s affairs, and that any intervention would be taken by Russia as “an act of aggression against a sovereign state.”
The Trump administration has been growing increasingly worried over Russia’s presence in Venezuela. Earlier this week, a spokesman for the State Department said that the issue of Russian troops in the country would be raised during the coming meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Washington D.C. According to Elliott Abrams, the U.S. special envoy on Venezuela, America is still “watching closely” to see what the Russians are doing, adding: “We have options, and it would be a mistake for the Russians to think they have a free hand.”
These trends are pointing more and more to a conflict over Venezuela between the U.S. and Russia in the Southern Hemisphere. There may come a point in the near future when President Trump will have to back up his demands for Russia to leave with some form of action.