After the USA has threatened to intervene in Venezuela, Putin has provided security for president Maduro in order to protect him from being taken hostage or killed by the violent opposition crime rings.
Reuters reported that a group of Russian mercenaries with ties to the Kremlin have been sent to Venezuela to provide security for Maduro as he struggles with the biggest threat to his rule in his six years in power.
Maduro has accused the USA of agitating for the Venezuelan opposition to move against him.
The moment opposition leader Guaido declared himself the acting president this week, Maduro has sought to expel US diplomats while vowing not to step aside. He has threatened violence against those who back the opposition.
Russia has offered to mediate the conflict between Maduro and Guaido, while joining with China to criticize the USA for interfering in Venezuelan affairs.
Earlier a group of these contractors had arrived in Venezuela before elections last year where Maduro won a second 6-year term, but another group had arrived more recently.
The security contractors flew to Venezuela not from Moscow but from third countries where they were conducting missions.
The Russian security contractors are believed to be from the Wagner Group, which a group of private contractors who have performed secret missions on behalf of the government, including fighting in Syria and the Ukraine.
The mercenaries traveled to Venezuela on private chartered flights that first landed in Cuba. The contractors have been charged with stopping opposition sympathizers or members of Maduro’s own forces from detaining him.
Publicly-available flight-tracking data has shown a number of Russian government aircraft landing in or near Venezuela over past weeks, though there was no evidence the flights were connected to military contractors.
A Russian Ilyushin-96 flew into Havana late on Wednesday after starting its journey in Moscow and flying via Senegal and Paraguay.
Maduro still retains control of the levers of power, including the country’s energy industry and its military, though while military commanders have largely backed him, the allegiance of the troops on the ground remains somewhat less clear.
Russia Insider / ABC Flash Point News 2019.