06:10 GMT +330 August 2016
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Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez (R) mans a Russian-made 9K338 Igla-S (SA-18) man-portable air-defence (MANPAD) surface-to-air missile launcher in Caracas on March 14, 2015

Venezuelan, Russian Troops Stage Large-Scale Military Exercises

© AFP 2016/ JUAN BARRETO
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The Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said that the nation's military is conducting massive air defense and artillery drills involving visiting Russian troops and hardware.

MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) — The Venezuelan military is conducting massive air defense and artillery drills involving visiting Russian troops and hardware, the nation's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez said Saturday.

The 10-day war games have been ordered by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who spoke of pressure coming from the United States earlier this month.

The Venezuelan government has been concerned about US President Barack Obama's new executive order, published Monday, which described the South American country as "unusual and extraordinary threat" to US national security and foreign policy.

Around 10,000 Venezuelan troops are taking part in the massive military exercises, which also involve Chinese crews, according to Venezuela's Noticias24 website.

The drills come in the wake of a February visit by Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who discussed military and technical cooperation with his Venezuelan counterpart in Caracas.

Venezuelan forces have shown increased interest in Russian military aid. Russian-made military equipment has substantially strengthened the capacity of Venezuela's armed forces, according to Lopez.

Russia is actively pursuing defence cooperation with South American countries, which includes the sales of weaponry, the construction of naval maintenance and resupply facilities, as well as the occasional use of local airbases for hosting Russian strategic bombers on global patrol missions.

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military drills, Vladimir Padrino Lopez, Russia, Venezuela
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