Venezuela will build models of the tank biathlon and other test courses Russia created for use in its international military competition, a top Venezuelan general said Tuesday. The official touted the need for continued cooperation between Venezuela and Russia, which have strengthened their ties in recent months amid diplomatic spats with Western leaders.
Venezuelan military personnel arrived in Russia this month for the International Army Games, the first official incarnation of Russia’s multinational competition. Venezuela was to participate in the tank biathlon, as well as aviation and artillery exercises.
“We have an idea of building a competition course like the one we’ve seen here in [Alabino, Russia]. And not just for the tank biathlon but for all other events we are going to take part in,” Venezuelan Gen. Jose Ines Gonzalez Perez said at a press conference, according to Russian news agency Tass. The Venezuelan military’s participation in the competition and continued association with the Russian military was “very important,” Perez reportedly added.
The International Army Games’ events have been described in Russian media as a cross between competitions and full-fledged training. A total of 17 countries entered the competitive exercises, which run through Aug. 15.
Venezuela and Russia have each dealt with international diplomatic crises in recent months. The United States and European Union enacted economic sanctions against Moscow due to its purported involvement in the eastern Ukraine conflict, in which more than 6,400 people have died since early 2014.
Separately, U.S. President Barack Obama used executive action to impose sanctions on several top Venezuelan officials amid allegations of human rights violations, including the mistreatment of government protestors. Russia’s Foreign Ministry criticized the U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and expressed support for its Central American ally in May.
“We have confirmed solidarity with the people of Venezuela and our firm support for the policy of the government of President [Nicolas] Maduro, aimed at preventing destabilization of the situation, organization of nationwide dialogue with the constructive opposition in order to resolve any emerging problems within the constitutional framework and without any foreign intervention,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the time, according to Tass .