Russia holding war games in Venezuela, sending alarming signals throughout Latin America

Snipers from Russia and other countries hostile to the United States are competing in war games being held this week in Venezuela in events described as Olympic games for soldiers that were organized not only to show that Moscow still has friends but also that some of them are in Latin America.

The international war games have been held yearly since 2015, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and Venezuela has participated from its beginning, but this year’s games are the first held in Latin America, and include participants from Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua.

Forces from Burma, Belarus, Abkhazia, Uzbekistan, China, India, Pakistan and Indonesia, among others, also participate in the competitions. These are nations that “daily condemn imperialist aggression against the peoples,” Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López declared as he inaugurated the games on Monday.

The games are held at a time when Russia is being harshly criticized for its military incursion into Ukraine, an invasion that triggered severe economic sanctions against Moscow by Europe and the United States and a chorus of condemnations around the world.

“In a sense, this seeks to normalize (and pave the way for) a larger military presence in Latin America,” said Joseph Humire, executive director of the Center for a Secure Free Society, a Washington-based think tank. These games could open the door “to larger military operations and games in the future” involving not only Russia, but also China and Iran.

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