Footage shows Russian-built Venezuelan fighter jet ‘aggressively shadowing’ an American aircraft4 min read

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Dramatic footage released by the US government appears to show the moment a Russian-built Venezuelan SU-30 aggressively shadows an American aircraft monitoring for illegal trafficking over the Caribbean sea. 

U.S. Southern Command tweeted video and images Sunday from the incident on Friday before slamming Vladimir Putin for offering military assistance to the country’s far left leader Nicolas Maduro. 

They say the SU-30 Flanker ‘aggressively shadowed’ a U.S. EP-3 aircraft at an unsafe distance, ‘jeopardizing the crew & aircraft’ while they performed a ‘multi-nationally recognized & approved mission’. 

Southern Command, responsible for security cooperation and operations in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, added: ‘This action demonstrates #Russia’s irresponsible military support to Maduro’s illegitimate regime & underscores Maduro’s recklessness & irresponsible behavior, which undermines int’l rule of law & efforts to counter illicit trafficking.’  

In a statement US Southern Command said: ‘The EP-3 aircraft, flying a mission in approved international airspace was approached in an unprofessional manner by the SU-30 that took off from an airfield 200 miles east of Caracas. 

‘The U.S. routinely conducts multi-nationally recognized and approved detection and monitoring missions in the region to ensure the safety and security of our citizens and those of our partners.’ 

U.S. Southern Command tweeted video and images Sunday from the incident on Friday

U.S. Southern Command tweeted video and images Sunday from the incident on Friday

U.S. Southern Command said the SU-30 Flanker 'aggressively shadowed' a U.S. EP-3 aircraft at an unsafe distance, 'jeopardizing the crew & aircraft' while they performed a 'multi-nationally recognized & approved mission'

U.S. Southern Command said the SU-30 Flanker ‘aggressively shadowed’ a U.S. EP-3 aircraft at an unsafe distance, ‘jeopardizing the crew & aircraft’ while they performed a ‘multi-nationally recognized & approved mission’

Venezuela claims the US military aircraft violated its airspace during the incident in ‘a clear provocation’. 

Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said the aircraft ‘entered the Flight Information Region (FIR Maiquetía) controlled by Venezuela in breach of the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), constituting an aeronautical risk for other aircraft’.  

In June Venezuela accused the United States, Colombia and Chile of colluding to remove an under-pressure Maduro. 

Russia is a staunch ally of the embattled Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro

Russia is a staunch ally of the embattled Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro

The embattled leader of the oil-rich South American nation is facing popular backlash at home over a failing economy and spiraling inflation, as well as increasing international isolation.

The far-left leader is embroiled in a power struggle with Juan Guaido, the man the United States and scores of other countries recognize as Venezuela’s legitimate interim president. 

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Russia is a staunch ally of the embattled Maduro and has backed him alongside China, while most western powers have backed opposition leader Juan Guaido. 

In July Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said they planned to strengthen Venezuela’s military to resist ‘enemies’ who want to destabilize the country.  

Mr Ryabkov, speaking on Venezuelan Independence Day, said that Moscow will continue to provide equipment to President Nicolas Maduro’s troops without putting its own soldiers on the ground.

‘We today declare, but not only declare, but with actions we reaffirm our determination to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Venezuelan friends,’ he said.  

Mr Ryabkov denied that Russia has any military presence in Venezuela, despite previously ‘speculations’.

Moscow is believe to have deployed hundreds of military contractors to the country, some of whom work on behalf of the shadowy Wagner Group.  

Recognized by the United States and more than 50 other countries as interim president, Guaido said he would continue to call on the armed forces to abandon Maduro.

Most western powers have backed opposition leader Juan Guaido. Recognized by the United States and more than 50 other countries as interim president, Guaido said he would continue to call on the armed forces to abandon Maduro

Most western powers have backed opposition leader Juan Guaido. Recognized by the United States and more than 50 other countries as interim president, Guaido said he would continue to call on the armed forces to abandon Maduro

Russia is a staunch ally of the embattled Maduro and has backed him alongside China. In July Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said they planned to strengthen Venezuela's military to resist 'enemies' who want to destabilise the country.

Russia is a staunch ally of the embattled Maduro and has backed him alongside China. In July Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said they planned to strengthen Venezuela’s military to resist ‘enemies’ who want to destabilise the country.

According to the United Nations, over 4 million Venezuelans have abandoned their homeland. The number of refugees and migrants has increased by one million since November 2018.

Latin American countries have opened their borders to their Venezuelan neighbors.

The United States has already imposed sanctions on Maduro’s son Nicolas Ernesto Maduro Guerra for serving in his father’s ‘illegitimate regime.’

The action freezes any assets the 29-year-old has in the United States and bars American individuals or institutions from doing business with him.