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25 Jan, 2019 23:09

Maduro announces military drills to show Venezuela is ‘unassailable’

Maduro announces military drills to show Venezuela is ‘unassailable’

After US and its allies recognized an opposition leader as president of Venezuela, sitting President Nicolas Maduro announced military drills to show that his country is more than a match to any potential invader.

Venezuela's National Armed Forces will hold massive exercises between February 10 and 15, Maduro told journalists at a press conference on Friday. During the war games, he said, the troops will repel a simulated invasion and enhance their skills in defending the territories, coast and waterways of the Latin American state.

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“Our Armed Forces make our country unassailable,” Maduro said, adding that the military is quite capable of standing against any aggressor that sets foot on Venezuela's soil. According to the president, the Venezuelan military has reached the “highest professional level.”

We must prepare… to defend Venezuela in any scenario

Venezuela indeed commands a sizeable military force, amounting to some half a million personnel, including both male and female soldiers. The military consists of the ground forces, the Navy, the Air Force as well as the National Guard and the National Militia. The Latin American state also continues the modernization of its military equipment, which has been started by Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

Subjected to the US military embargo since 2006, Venezuela turned to Russia and China – among others – to procure weapons and equipment. The Venezuelans currently have Russian-made Su-30MK fighter jets, several types of strike and transport helicopters, as well as a vast arsenal and weapons ranging from Russian laser-guided bombs to air-to-surface and air-to-ship missiles.

The army has remained loyal to the elected government, despite the reports of isolated small-scale uprisings among the lower ranks of the military. Venezuela remains in political turmoil, however, after the opposition leader and head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, declared himself “interim president” earlier this week, immediately receiving support from the US as well as a number of the Latin American countries.

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The troubled country might face something more than a heated internal political conflict. US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that “all options are on the table” when asked if Washington considers sending troops to Venezuela, though the White House is “not considering anything” right now.

The head of the Organization of American States (OAS), which has backed Washington’s regime change push, argued last year that a military intervention against Caracas should not be ruled out as a response to the ongoing crisis.

“With regards to a military intervention aimed at overthrowing the regime of Nicolas Maduro, I think we should not exclude any option,” OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro said in September 2018, provoking an angry reaction from Maduro.

Ecuadorian ex-president Rafael Correa told RT this week that the US and its allies could still resort to "military [action], assassinations or kidnappings" in their reckless push for a regime change in Venezuela.

Also on rt.com Ecuadorian ex-president Correa to RT: Сannot rule out US-backed ‘military action’ in Venezuela

So far, the US State Secretary Mike Pompeo openly urged Maduro to step down and called on the Venezuelan military to support efforts to restore "democracy," in a move which could be seen as encouraging an armed coup.

Washington's actions have been repeatedly criticized by Moscow, which accused the US of "bullying" Venezuela, meddling into its internal affairs, and showing no respect to its sovereignty.

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