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Russian deployment in Venezuela includes ‘cybersecurity personnel’: U.S. official

According to a US official, the 100 or so Russian troops that arrived in Venezuela on Saturday by plane included “cybersecurity personnel.” This means that Russia could aim to support surveillance efforts by the regime of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and/or help the government protect it’s infrastructure. Maduro has blamed recent country-wide blackouts on cyberattacks.

Earlier this year, US President Trump recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela, and there are signs that the US is planning a military campaign aimed at overthrowing President Maduro, whose regime is supported by Moscow.

The US government on Monday criticized Russia’s decision to send aircraft with equipment and military personnel to Venezuela, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warning that the US “will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela.” However, Russia on Tuesday defended the move, saying that it was “developing cooperation with Venezuela in strict accordance with the constitution of that country and with full respect for its legal norms.”

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