CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – United States (US) authorities on Sunday said that a Venezuelan fighter jet “aggressively shadowed” an American intelligence plane flying in international airspace over the Caribbean, underscoring rising tensions between the two nations.
The US Southern Command said that Venezuela’s action demonstrates reckless behaviour by President Nicolás Maduro, whose government accused the US plane of entering Venezuelan airspace.
US authorities said their EP-3 plane was performing a multi-nationally approved mission on Friday and the Venezuelan SU-30 fighter jet closely trailed the plane, which the US says endangered its crew. The response by the Venezuelan fighter jet “undermines int’l rule of law & efforts to counter illicit trafficking,” US authorities tweeted, providing video of what they said was the Russian-made jet.
The Trump administration and more than 50 other nations back opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s attempt to oust Maduro, whom they accuse of leading the country into a historic crisis.
“This latest action also demonstrates Russia’s irresponsible military support to the illegitimate Maduro regime and adds to Maduro’s growing legacy of reckless and negligent behaviour,” US officials said in a statement.