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Russia, Venezuela to start naval drills in Caribbean

Russia, Venezuela to start naval drills in Caribbean 01.12.2008 Source: en.rian.ru

Russia and Venezuela will begin joint naval exercises in the Caribbean on Monday, lasting two days.

Four Russian and 12 Venezuelan ships will practice sea rescue operations and maneuvering, and conduct live-firing artillery drills. The exercises will include tactics to counter terrorism and drug trafficking, and will involve helicopters and planes, Russian and Venezuelan officials said earlier.

The Russian warships, led by the nuclear-powered cruiser Pyotr Veliky (Peter the Great) arrived in Venezuela on Tuesday - the first such deployment since the Cold War - ahead of the Russian president's first visit to the Latin American country.

The exercises are widely seen as Moscow's response to the United States' aid to Georgia after its brief war with Russia and U.S. plans to deploy missiles in Central Europe. Russia has denied any connection.

Two Russian strategic bombers carried out patrols along the coast of South America in October.

During their visit to Russia's Admiral Chabanenko destroyer last week, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez said the planned drills were designed to ensure stability in the region and were not aimed against third countries.

They said other Latin American states could join their countries' naval exercises in the future.

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