Caracas: Russian warships have sailed into a Venezuelan port in the first deployment of its kind in the Caribbean since the end of the Cold War. Thevessels were greeted by a 21-gun military salute on Tuesday at the start of a week of joint manoeuvres as Moscow and Caracas seek to strengthen their political and trade ties. The ships, including the nuclear powered cruiser Peter the Great and the destroyer Admiral Chabankenko, arrived at La Guaira, a port near to the capital Caracas, to coincide with a two day visit by Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president. However, the move has been widely interpreted as a demonstration of the Kremilin’s anger at the US or both its plans to install a missile-defence shield in eastern Europe and its decision to send aid-laden warships to Georgia this summer. Russia and Georgia were briefly at war during August over the disputed independence of border states South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
The US administration played down any concerns over the joint show of force by two of its sharpest critics. Sean McGormack, the US state department spokesman, said: ” I don’t think there’s any qustion about.. who the region looks to in terms of political, economic, diplomatic and as well as military power. “If the Venezuelans and the Russians want to have a military exercise, that’s fine. But we’ll obisously be watching it very closely,” he said.