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Venezuela says Russian planes land for military cooperation

Venezuela says Russian planes land for military cooperation

A new power outage spread across much of Venezuela on Monday, knocking communications offline and stirring fears of a repeat of the chaos nearly two weeks ago during the nation's largest-ever blackout.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez on Monday said the blackout that began in the early afternoon was the result of an attack on Venezuela's main hydroelectric Guri dam which had affected three major transmission lines.

The House has approved three bills aimed at stepping up US pressure against the government of Venezuela's embattled president, Nicolas Maduro.

"Lavrov emphasized that Washington's attempts to stage a coup in Venezuela and threats against its legitimate government were a violation of the UN Charter and blatant interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state", the ministry said following a phone call between the two.

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In December, Russia sent two Tu-160 strategic bombers to Venezuela for several days in a demonstration of support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has rejected demands from the United States and dozens of other countries that he resign.

Reuters reports that the two planes took off from Russia Friday and landed in Caracas on Saturday.

The news, however, will no doubt spark a reaction from Washington as the Venezuelan crisis continues with no resolution in sight despite the increasing pressure that the United States is piling up on the government in Caracas.

The high-profile meetings are aimed at demonstrating USA backing for Guaido, the head of Venezuela's national assembly, who in January invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency, arguing that President Nicolas Maduro's 2018 re-election was illegitimate.

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Earlier on Monday, the United States said that the deployment by Russian Federation of air force planes and personnel in Venezuela over the weekend was a "reckless escalation of the situation" in the country.

Mr Pompeo urged Russian Federation to "cease its unconstructive behaviour" and support Mr Guaido.

The Organization of American States echoed the U.S. condemnation.

Venezuela, an oil rich nation is now facing a awful crisis with hyperinflation and shortages of food and basic goods.

Russia's Foreign Ministry has said Russian military personnel who arrived in Venezuela over the weekend have every right to be there.

Upon leaving a National Assembly session on Tuesday, individuals threw stones at the vehicle in which Guaido was travelling and tried to open its doors, according to a Reuters witness.

In response, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department condemned the action as a "reckless escalation of the situation" to reporters on March 24.

Venezuela in February had blocked a convoy carrying humanitarian aid for the crisis-stricken country that was coordinated with the team of opposition leader Juan Guaido, including supplies provided by the United States, from entering via the border with Colombia.


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