Russian planes land for military cooperation
A Venezuelan official says Russian aircraft arrived in Caracas this weekend (3/23) as part of ongoing military cooperation between the two allies.
The official said Sunday that Russian military officials are visiting to discuss equipment maintenance and training, and strategy. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Flightradar24, a flight-tracking site, showed the flight path Saturday of what it listed as a Russian air force plane, apparently headed to Caracas while flying across the Caribbean.
Javier Mayorca, a Venezuelan journalist, tweeted that a Russian cargo plane with military equipment also arrived in Caracas on Saturday.
The reports could not be independently confirmed.
Russia backs Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has rejected demands from the United States and dozens of other countries that he resign.
US revoked more than 340 visas from Venezuelans since Monday
The United States has revoked hundreds of visas from Venezuelans since Monday, nearly a third of which belonged to former diplomats from Venezuela and their families, and is urging US citizens in Venezuela to flee the country days after the US withdrew its diplomats from Venezuela, the State Department said on Thursday.
"Since this Monday ... we have revoked 340 visas, 107 of which include visas of Maduro's former diplomats and their families," State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters.
The US has been stepping up actions against President Nicolas Maduro's government as it tries to pressure Maduro to step down.
US considering sanctions to restrict Visa, Mastercard in Venezuela: Official
The United States is considering imposing financial sanctions that could prohibit Visa, Mastercard and other financial institutions from processing transactions in Venezuela, a senior Trump administration said on Thursday.
The move, which has not been finalised, would be a significant ratcheting up of pressure on the government of President Nicolas Maduro and his supporters.
"The purpose of these sanctions is to continue to deprive the illegitimate Maduro regime of access to funds and deny their ability to continue stealing from the Venezuelan people," the official said.
Pompeo: All US diplomats have left Venezuela
The United States has withdrawn all remaining diplomatic personnel from its embassy in Caracas as the crisis in Venezuela deepens.
"Today, all US diplomats remaining in Venezuela departed the country. I know it is a difficult moment for them," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Thursday.
He said the US remains committed to supporting opposition leader Juan Guaido, who wants to remove Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and hold elections.
The embassy closure is set to worsen already tattered relations with US President Donald Trump, who has not ruled out military intervention to overthrow Maduro as Washington monitors rapidly unfolding events in the oil-rich but crippled South American nation.
China offers help to restore power
China has offered to help Venezuela as it faces a crippling multi-day power blackout that President Nicolas Maduro blames on the United States.
"China hopes that Venezuela can quickly find the cause of this accident and restore normal power and social order," foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang says at a regular briefing.
"China is willing to offer assistance and technical support to Venezuela to restore the power system," Lu says.
The country was hit by a blackout last week and parts of the capital and other cities are still affected.
Venezuela has plunged into a major political crisis amid a growing row over President Nicolas Maduro's future as the country's leader.
Maduro started a second term on January 10, following a widely boycotted election last year that many foreign governments refused to recognise.
On January 23, Juan Guaido, leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself interim president.
Shortly after Guaido took an oath swearing himself in, US President Donald Trump publicly recognised him as the country's leader.
Maduro accused Guaido of staging a coup and ordered his arrest.
Here are all the latest updates as of Wednesday March 13, six days after the worst blackout in decades paralysed most of the country.
source: foxnews, ap, aljazeera