Russian warships left this morning for coordinated training exercises with the Venezuelan navy, the AFP reports. The group, consisting of a nuclear-powered guided-missile cruiser, anti-submarine ship, and supporting craft, were seen firing artillery on the open ocean in tests. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez said the deployment was a “warning” to the US: "Venezuela is no longer poor and alone."
Two Russian bombers have already been deployed to Venezuela to take part in the exercises. Washington is monitoring the situation “very closely,” the US State Department says. The ships may stop at Syria’s ports of Tartus and Latakia, where Russian engineers have been working to reopen Cold War-era naval bases, Russian state media reports.