CARACAS: Venezuela on Friday (Jul 23) accused the United States, of violating its airspace, in what it said was a “blatant provocation,” warning it would “respond forcefully” to any maneuver it saw as an act of aggression.
The incident came as the Colombian and US militaries took part in exercises near Venezuela’s Caribbean coastline.
Venezuela reported that a US “type C-17 heavy military transport” crossed into its airspace late Thursday for “a period of three minutes … making a journey of approximately 14 nautical miles,” a defense ministry statement said.
“This blatant provocation took place during joint military exercises by the Colombian Air Force and Army in the Departments of Antioquia and Cundinamarca, respectively, in which there is also a presence of American F-16 and RC135 fighter jets for strategic exploration,” it added.
On Jul 16, the Colombian Air Force reported joint military training exercises with the United States “with the objective of improving interoperability with allied countries.”
“We are aware that as part of the aforementioned exercises, reconnaissance tasks are being carried out toward Venezuelan geographic space, which is why we do not rule out other possible hostile actions against our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said the Venezuelan government.
President Nicolas Maduro “has issued precise orders to remain alert and respond forcefully to any act of aggression,” the text warned.
Venezuela does not have diplomatic relations with the United States and Colombia, a country with which it shares a porous border of more than 2,200km.
Caracas’s relations with Bogota and Washington have been strained since the presidency of the late Hugo Chavez, but tensions escalated after the United States and Colombia recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as president, deeming Maduro’s reelection in 2018 fraudulent.
Maduro often denounces what he describes as plans to assassinate or overthrow him led by the two governments, his main international rivals.