US weighs Russia-Iran-China sniper exercises in Venezuela

Russia-led sniper games in Venezuela raise eyebrows in Washington

The Russian army, against the backdrop of the special operation in Ukraine, conducts various exercises with a large group of countries, including, for the first time, in Latin America. This surprises and frightens American analysts.

The exercises will bring together snipers from Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela.

Armed forces of Venezuela, Russia, Iran and China, along with ten other countries, are to hold large-scale military competition in Venezuela in August called Sniper Frontier, Washington Free Beacon said citing the Center for a Safe Free Society (SFS, a national security think tank in Washington).

The event is going to be part of the International Army Games, which the Russian Defence Ministry holds annually in different countries since 2015.

For example, the 2021 Sniper Frontier was held in Vietnam with the participation of seven countries. The competition consisted of four stages: assessment of individual skills, assessment of doubles, assessment of the team work and assessment of speed. The contestants used three types of weapons:

  • Makarov K59 pistol,
  • AK74 assault rifle,
  • 7.62 mm Dragunov sniper rifle.

US Enemies Infiltrate Latin America

In other words, it goes about competitions among paratroopers and marines, which do not involve maneuvers of military hardware.

However, American analysts draw far-reaching conclusions, because now is the first time when Venezuela joins the games.

"America's Enemies Reach into Latin America" — a headline of a Western media publication said.

According to SFS, the exercises show to which extent the region is ready to distance itself from the "unipolar world." The report also notes that the exercises come as "a strategic move (by Venezuela, Russia, China and Iran) to sound out the preliminary deployment of rapid response assets in Latin America and the Caribbean."

"Russia and its allies Iran and China are about to make a major show of force with the army games competition in August in Venezuela. But it's important to understand that this force is molded by cyber-enabled, digital disinformation that is at the heart of how this kind of joint military exercise is used to legitimize authoritarian states and delegitimize democracies in the Western Hemisphere," Joseph Humire, a national security analyst and executive director of the think tank, told the Washington Free Beacon.

The Venezuelan army is one of the most powerful and combat-ready armies in the region.

According to Colombian publication, over the past 15 years, the Venezuelans have invested about $5 billion to acquire Russian military equipment and train their personnel with the help of Russian instructors.

Since 2019, with the support of Russia, China, Iran and Cuba, five battalion tactical groups have been created in the Venezuelan army, the publication said.

Each of those groups consists of 700 fighters, has at least 30 battle tanks, four Grad missile systems with a firing range of 40 km and four self-propelled artillery and anti-missile systems.

Venezuela plans to create two more such battalions. They will acquire Iranian Mohajer-2 drones in their original configuration and assembly, capable of attacking any ground target.

As for China, it also provides Venezuela with certain types of weapons (K-8 aircraft, BH-16 light tanks, anti-tank and anti-ship missiles, self-propelled mortars, armored personnel carriers), as well as military technology. The Venezuelan Air and Space Defense Force (CODAI) uses the Russian P-18 mobile radar system and the Chinese JY-11B radar to monitor and control borders.

Venezuela could become a springboard for larger exercises

Thus, Venezuela may become a springboard for much larger maneuvers near the US borders.

In early 2022, Iran, Russia and China held Marine Security Belt 2022 exercise in the northern Indian Ocean. Eleven ships of the Iranian Navy, three Russian ships, including a destroyer, and two Chinese ships took part in the games.

At the 2019 Army Games, Russian and Venezuelan Defense Ministers Sergei Shoygu and Vladimir Padrino Lopez signed a strategic naval agreement regulating future port calls for their warships.

In 2018, Russia sent a squadron of Russian aircraft to Venezuela, consisting of two Tu-160 strategic nuclear bombers, an An-14 military transport aircraft and an Il-62 aircraft with paratroopers from Syria. The exercises, according to Padrino, practiced the defense of the South American country.

"We are going to increase all plans for training, education and cooperation with such a military power as Russia,” Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said in February 2022, shortly before the start of the special operation.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, in an interview with RTVI, did not rule out the deployment of military infrastructure in Cuba and Venezuela.

"I don't want to either confirm or exclude anything," the diplomat said.

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Author`s name Lyuba Lulko
Editor Dmitry Sudakov