German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine has alleged that the disturbance in US government circles, which was incited by the visit of Russian Tu-160s to Venezuela, is caused by the fact that while the US grip on the region weakens, especially on Venezuela itself, Russia is continuing to cement its positions in the Latin American country. The newspaper even suggested that Venezuela might become a "new Cuba in the US backyard" for Russia.
Frankfurter Allgemeine pointed out that in recent years Russia has heavily invested in the Venezuelan energy sector, saving it from stagnation due to ageing equipment and lack of new drilling sites. Moscow is also among the few states still giving Caracas new credits, restructuring and writing off old loans as the country struggles to cope with its huge debt. During the last visit by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to Moscow, Russia promised $6 billion in investments in the near future.
Another point of cooperation between the two states is the military sphere. The newspaper stressed that after the US stopped supplying Caracas with weapons and Israel halted shipments of spare parts for F-16s, Moscow stepped in to fill the void. Russia and Venezuela have signed multi-billion contracts on military equipment, and in the near future, the country will start producing Kalashnikov rifles on its territory.
According to Frankfurter Allgemeine, Russian help not only allowed Venezuela to stay afloat financially, but also strengthened its army, which has become one of the strongest in the region. The latter is especially important, since last year, US President Donald Trump revealed that Washington doesn't exclude a military option as a means to resolve its confrontation with Caracas.
The German newspaper argues that Russia has to protect its investments in Venezuela and hence sent its strategic bombers to patrol the Caribbean Sea to send the US a message that Caracas "is not alone". The media outlet doesn't explain why then the Russian Tu-160s returned home in less than a week.