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Maduro, Putin talk after diplomat hints at military activity

CARACAS, VENEZUELA (AP) – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro (AP; pic below) on Thursday said he spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin about cooperation between the two countries.

The call came a week after Russia’s chief negotiator in talks with the United States (US) on tensions over Ukraine said he would “neither confirm nor exclude” the possibility of Russia sending military assets to Cuba and Venezuela if the US and its allies don’t curtail their military activities on Russia’s doorstep.

Maduro’s office in a statement said Putin “expressed all his multidimensional support and backing for the defence of the sovereignty and in pursuit of the development of” the South American country.

The statement said the presidents spoke of the increase in commerce between both countries, the launch of air service between Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, and Moscow, and Russia’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines to Venezuelans.

“We exchanged on issues related to existing cooperation in various strategic areas at the highest level, a relationship that is strengthened by the unbreakable union of our peoples,” Maduro tweeted.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who led the Russian delegation at the talks with the US in Geneva, on January 13 spoke of the possibility of deploying military assets to his country’s two allies in the Western Hemisphere. US national security adviser Jake Sullivan dismissed the comments as bluster.

Asked on Monday about the possibility of Russian missile deployment to Cuba and Venezuela, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “Russia is thinking about how to ensure its security in the context of the current situation”.

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