Numerous media sources are reporting that Vladimir Putin has dispatched a team of private mercenaries to Venezuela to help back up the besieged government of President Nicolás Maduro. Reuters cites claims that some 400 military contractors from the Wagner group have arrived in Caracas. Wagner PMC (Private Military Company) is a Russian firm already contracted by Moscow's Defense Ministry to provide personnel for the wars in Ukraine and in Syria. Moscow Times quotes Yevgeny Shabayev, ataman (commander) of the Khovrino Cossack paramilitary group, as saying that the mercenaries were flown to Havana on two chartered aircraft, where they were transfered to commerical flights to Caracas. Shabayev said Cossacks had been recruited for the force to serve as a kind of Praetorian Guard for Maduro. "Our people are there directly for his protection," he said. The Russian news site Lenta.ru cited Shabayev saying a "military conspiracy had been discovered in Maduro's inner circle, and therefore it was necessary to replace his personal security with loyal people."
Interesting that the "loyal people" are Russian rather than Venezuelan. Also interesting that communist Cuba is allowing transit of Cossacks through its territory, given that the Cossacks were allied with the Whites during the Russian Revolution. More strange Red-Brown Politics.
Shabayev also confirmed to Radio Free Europe last February that Cossack veterans of the war in Ukraine's Donbass region were now being "utilized" in Syria. The presence of the mercenaries came to light after several were apparently killed in a US air-strike on supposed Assadist forces in Syria's Deir ez-Zor governorate that month.
Yeah, the State-Department-linked Radio Free Europe has its own reasons to be trumpeting these claims. But why aren't Maduro's "leftist" supporters concerned that their hero is being backed by Cossacks?
Image: Voices from Russia