CARACAS, Venezuela – Taking into account the current political relations between Venezuela and the US, this Latin American country has sufficient grounds to verify the preparedness of its troops.
Earlier, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro inspected the military on the eve of major military maneuvers, while the country’s generals expressed their loyalty to the legitimate leader and his homeland. All of these actions come in response to recent statements by US Senator Lindsey Graham that Donald Trump considers, among other scenarios, the use of force to carry out a coup in Venezuela.
In this connection, Russian military analyst Andrei Kots assesses the effectiveness of the Armed Forces of Venezuela and their ability to resist aggression.
Compact and very efficient
The Venezuelan army is considered one of the most powerful in South America. According to the report The Military Balance 2018, made by the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), the country’s Armed Forces has 123,000 troops, while the popular militia includes a contingent of 220,000 more fighters.
According to several estimates, the military budget of the Bolivarian Republic is US$ 2.6-3 billion.
Although in terms of quantity and funding Venezuela’s army does not represent anything extraordinary, it has a high level of material equipment, mainly thanks to Russia.
It is worth noting that Venezuela is the largest importer of Russian armaments in the Western Hemisphere. The bilateral cooperation agreement was signed in 2001, and since then Russia has delivered a large amount of armaments to the Venezuelan army.
In fact, almost all of the material of the Venezuelan Ground Troops is of Russian production: 92 T-72B1V tanks, 123 BMP-3M armored infantry armored vehicles with reinforced armor and active protection and 114 armored BTR-80A armored vehicles. In addition, the self-propelled artillery is also composed mainly of Russian pieces of various types.
In addition, the fleet of vehicles includes French and Chinese armored vehicles, but their number is not as significant.
As for Venezuelan aviation, it also has dozens of Mi-35M2 combat helicopters, 16 Mi-17B5 units and three Mi-26 heavy aircraft.
However, the main asset of the country’s Air Force is represented by 23 multifunctional Su-30MK2V fighters and 19 American F-16A fighters, purchased many years ago. Transportation aviation, by contrast, is made up of internationally produced airplanes. Despite its modest armament, the Navy is sufficient to protect the country’s coastal sea area.
The air defense system is considered to be the most powerful part of the Armed Forces of Venezuela. It represents a restraining factor for those neighbors who are in favor of a military invasion. In terms of structure, the antiaircraft defense is divided into five brigades. The long-range missile defense is made up of S-300VM, which allow targets to be reached up to 250 kilometers at altitudes of up to 30 kilometers. According to the manufacturer, the system is effective against stealth aircraft and is even capable of shooting down ballistic targets.
Medium-range air defense tasks are carried out by 12 Buk-M2 systems, imported from Russia and proven effective in Syria, and 24 Pechora-2M S-125 ground-to-air missile launch systems. It has the ability to reach aerial targets up to 32 kilometers at altitudes of up to 32 kilometers. In addition, it has a modernized radio protection complex.
The last line of the Venezuelan anti-aircraft defense has 13 Tor-M1 systems and a few dozen Igla-S systems.
All brigades are in permanent liaison with the United Aerospace Defense Command, which is part of the country’s Air Force.
In general, in terms of military capabilities, Venezuela does not represent a force equal to that of the United States. However, in case of any aggression, the army of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will be able to offer a tenacious resistance. The public opinion of the NATO countries is very vulnerable to losses among the military, especially the pilots. Therefore, as long as Venezuela has systems to overthrow intrusive aircraft that penetrate its territory, members of the military bloc as well as other countries will think well before invading Venezuela’s sovereign airspace.
Top US generals are likely to oppose any invasion of Venezuela sought by civilian super-hawks in the Trump administration as it would not make sense for any of their interests or priorities, veteran former Pentagon analyst Karen Kwiatkowski said.
“Intervening in Venezuela would make sense to a guy like National Security Adviser John Bolton, because it fits previous narratives he has been involved in. [However] it makes no sense for American interests, none to the US military,” Kwiatkowski, a retired US Air Force lieutenant colonel said.
“The American people are also not likely to support any involvement in a change of government in Venezuela, despite the presence of a full neo-conservative provocation team inside the White House,” Kwiatkowski continued.
Meanwhile, Venezuela has finally gone on the offensive against internal traitors with Attorney General Tarek William Saab announcing before the Supreme Court of Justice (STJ) the opening of a preliminary investigation into the head of parliament and opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has proclaimed himself the “president in charge” of the country.
“We came to deliver a document on the basis of a preliminary investigation by the Public Prosecutor against citizen Juan Guaidó regarding the violent events that have occurred in Venezuela since January 23,” Saab told reporters at the STJ headquarters.
In addition, the agency banned Guaido from leaving the country, sold out its properties and froze the opposition leader’s accounts.
The political crisis in Venezuela worsened on January 23, after National Assembly President Juan Guaidó was sworn in by the opposition as the “incumbent president” of the country.
Venezuelan head of state Nicolás Maduro, who took office on January 10, described Guaidó’s statement as a coup attempt and blamed the United States.
Some of the Latin American countries, aligned with the US, ignored Maduro and expressed their support for Guaido. Mexico and Uruguay, however, abstained from doing so, offering to mediate a political solution to the crisis. Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Greece, Serbia and others reaffirmed their support for the current Venezuelan government.