The Malta Independent 26 May 2019, Sunday

Russia planned to buy riot gear, tear gas from Malta to supply to Venezuela - report

Thursday, 18 April 2019, 16:34 Last update: about 2 months ago

Russia has withdrawn a request for one of its ships to dock in Malta with the intent of buying riot gear and tear gas to supply to Venezuela, according to a news report.

Buzzfeed reported that Malta had planned to reject the request all the same.

According to the report, the Russian embassy in Malta filed the request on 28 March. It had asked for the ship - the Severomorsk – to dock in Malta between April 23 and 26.  

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Buzzfeed, quoting unnamed senior Maltese government sources, said the request was for the ship to dock for provisioning and rest.

Russian diplomats were trying to purchase riot gear and gas canisters on the island, which officials suspect they wanted to load on to the ship, the report said.

Russia’s ministry of foreign affairs and its embassy in Malta did not respond to a request for comment, Buzzfeed added.

A few days prior, Malta had denied Russia permission to use its airspace to fly military aircraft to Caracas from Syria.

The latest move, the report reads, has raised concerns among senior US and European government officials that Moscow is looking to boost its military presence in Venezuela while also flexing its muscles in the Mediterranean.

The Maltese authorities had asked Russia for additional information about its request but have since been told by US officials that the ship is on its way to Venezuela.

The request, which was withdrawn by Russia on Tuesday, would have been denied by Malta, the sources added.

Russia is one of the main backers of embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

 

Photo: A ship similar to the Severomorsk. Source: Wikipedia

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