Page last updated at 01:59 GMT, Thursday, 11 September 2008 02:59 UK

Russian bombers land in Venezuela

Russian Tupolev-160 plane, archive photo
The Tu-160s will stay for several days

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez says two Russian bombers have arrived in the country to carry out training flights.

The Russian Air Force said the bombers would be based in Venezuela for several days and fly over neutral waters.

Earlier this week Russia confirmed that it would send a Navy squadron and long- range patrol planes for joint exercises with Venezuela in November.

Mr Chavez has developed close relations with Moscow, including the purchase of Russian arms and co-operation on oil.

Hugo Chavez announced that two Tu-160 bombers would carry out manoeuvres, saying that it was part of a move towards a "multi-polar world".

"I'm going to fly one of those beasts," he joked.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
Chavez: Ready to fly

"The Yankee hegemony is finished," he added.

A Russian defence ministry spokesman confirmed that the planes had flown to Venezuela, adding that they were escorted by Nato fighters as they flew across the Atlantic.

The planes are capable of carrying nuclear missiles, but the spokesman did not give any information about whether they were carrying arms during this mission.

President Chavez has backed Russia's military operations in Georgia, and said that he is interested in buying Russian submarines.

Russian navy to visit Venezuela
08 Sep 08 |  Americas
Profile: Hugo Chavez
03 Dec 07 |  Americas
Country profile: Venezuela
19 Jul 08 |  Country profiles

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