In the early morning hours of 3 March, an Il-62 aircraft (registration number RA-86496) belonging to the Russian Defense Ministry was detected in the region of the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, according to information from Flightradar24.
According to the flight tracking service, the Il-62 took off close to the Chkalovsky military airport near Moscow on the morning of 2 March. The plane adopted a course towards South Africa, flew over the Moroccan capital, Rabat, and approached Caracas in the early morning hours of 3 March. The Il-62 was spotted over Grenada in the Caribbean later that day.
The Telegram channel “Another Roldugin”, which drew attention to the information from Flightradar24, said that the aircraft is assigned to the 223rd special flight unit of the Russian Air Force, which carries out special transport assignments for the president and government.
“It flew to Venezuela from Russia at 9:34 local time yesterday and, after arriving at its destination, began the return journey almost immediately. Evidently the purpose of the flight was to deliver or collect some specific cargo. This aircraft had already been spotted in Caracas previously, and before this, it transported Russian troops to Syria,” the Telegram channel stated.
After Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president, Russian aircraft have been repeatedly spotted in Venezuela. In January, a mysterious Russian plane without passengers returned to Moscow from Caracas. The Kremlin denied any knowledge about the Nordwind aircaft. It is believed that the plane was used to transport some of Venezuela’s gold reserves to Russia.
Recently Reuters reported that Russian private security contractors had been sent to Venezuela to protect president Nicolás Maduro from the opposition and protesters. Moscow denied this information.