As we predicted a number of times before, a proxy war between Russia and the United States appears now heating up in Venezuela — this after over the weekend Russia sent a military transport plane filled with Russian troops commanded by First Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Land Forces of Russia Gen. Vasily Tonkoshkurov, which landed in Caracas Saturday. We also reported the major development this morning that new satellite images reveal a major deployment of S-300 air defense missile systems to a key airbase south of Caracas.
Russia's highly visible deployment of a small troop contingency along with a reported 35 tons of cargo has resulted in a direct and firm response from Washington as on Monday morning the US Secretary of State called on Russia to “cease its unconstructive behavior”.
According to Reuters Pompeo conveyed the message directly via a phone call with his Russian counterpart Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Spokesman Robert Palladino addressed the phone call in the following statement:
The secretary told Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov that the United States and regional countries will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela.
Palladino added that Pompeo specifically condemned Russian military support for the “illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro.”
Pompeo had earlier this month vowed to continue to put "unconstrained" pressure on the Maduro regime after it became apparent that all internal coup attempts by the Juan Guaido-led opposition had failed.
As we reported previously this week's tensions follows a high-level meeting in Rome last week, during which Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied - thus it appears Russia is taking no chances with its South American ally.
One of those warnings delivered directly by Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov to US “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams is understood to have been that no American military intervention in Venezuela will be tolerated by Moscow.
Perhaps paralleling the Syria situation, this could be the start of a scenario where the greater the proxy action and threats from the United States, the more Russia will slowly intervene at the behest of Maduro.
All of these developments signalling closer Russian-Venezuelan military-to-military cooperation in the face of Washington saber rattling come after three months ago the two allies held military exercises on Venezuelan soil, which the US at the time had condemned as Russia encroachment in the region.