Jul 22, 2019

U.S.: Venezuelan fighter jet "aggressively shadowed" American Navy plane

An image of the Russian-made SU-30 Flanker. Photo: United States Southern Command

The United States Southern Command criticized Russia as it released images Sunday of a Venezuelan fighter jet it said "aggressively shadowed" a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft flying over the Caribbean last week.

Details: The Russian-made SU-30 Flanker approached the U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries II "at an unsafe distance" in international airspace and in an "unprofessional manner" on Friday, the United States Southern Command said in a statement.

"This action demonstrates Russia’s irresponsible military support to [Venezuelan President Nicolás] Maduro's illegitimate regime & underscores Maduro’s recklessness & irresponsible behavior, which undermines int’l rule of law & efforts to counter illicit trafficking."
— United States Southern Command statement

The other side: Venezuela’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López said the American plane entered Venezuelan airspace without earlier notification, violating international rules and endangering commercial flights from the country’s main airport, according to the Washington Post.

The big picture: The incident comes amid a months-long power struggle between Maduro and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has the support of the U.S. — which has imposed sanctions on the country in an attempt to pressure Maduro to step down.

Go deeper: In oil-rich Venezuela, fuel shortages spark man-made famines

Go deeper

Embargo on Venezuela pits U.S. against China and Russia

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House national security adviser John Bolton declared in a speech Tuesday morning that the embargo on Venezuela announced Monday night will deny President Nicolás Maduro the funds he needs to sustain his regime.

Why it matters: It has been six months since the U.S. recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president, and three months since a U.S.-supported coup attempt on Maduro failed. The drastic new steps are an attempt to regain momentum — but they will inflame tensions with Russia and China, allies of Maduro who receive shipments of Venezuelan oil as a form of debt repayment.

Go deeperArrowAug 6, 2019

U.S. embargo on Venezuela raises stakes for Russia and China

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro speaking in Caracas. Photo: Matias Delacroix/Getty Images)

In the absence of a foreign policy victory in Venezuela, President Trump's economic embargo on the country shows his sights resettling on the prospect of regime change.

The big picture: Despite Washington's anointment of Juan Guaidó as the country's democratically elected leader and its tightening asset freeze on government property, regime change remains a high hurdle. Behind the administration's recent move is the untested wager that the renewed threat of extraterritorial sanctions against Venezuela's trade partners China and Russia could erode their support for President Nicolás Maduro.

Go deeperArrowAug 7, 2019

Trump's Venezuela envoy insists Maduro will fall within months

Guaidó this week in Caracas. Photo: Pedro Mattey/picture alliance via Getty

President Trump's envoy for Venezuela says he's "absolutely" confident Nicolás Maduro will fall by year's end, despite Maduro's success thus far in clinging to power.

Flashback: It has now been 6 months since Juan Guaidó declared himself Venezuela's legitimate president. The Trump administration demanded at the time that Maduro leave immediately, or else. He didn't. An attempt to topple him in April failed. Rumblings of potential U.S. military intervention haven't come to fruition.

Go deeperArrowJul 25, 2019