Multiple media outlets are covering the mysterious activity surrounding a Russian-based Boeing 777 aircraft operated by Nordwind Airlines that unexpectedly landed in Caracas, Venezuela from Moscow on Tuesday. Noticias Venezuela reported that the plane had made the trip with only an unidentified crew aboard.
Nordwind Airlines does not offer direct Moscow-Caracas flights, and speculation is mounting that the Russian government is utilizing the commercial passenger aircraft for nefarious purposes.
Jose Guerra, identified as a Venezuelan National Assembly deputy, claimed on his Twitter account that 20 tons of gold was removed from Venezuela’s central bank and loaded on to the aircraft the day after it landed.
While his claim may have sounded sensational at first, Bloomberg News also reported on this alleged transfer and identified Guerra as a former central bank economist at the country’s central bank who still has close ties to workers who remain at the bank. Another unidentified individual claiming direct knowledge of the matter also told Bloomberg News Tuesday that 20 tons of gold have been set aside in the central bank for loading, so the story has gained more credibility.
Reuters recently reported that private military contractors who carry out secret missions for Russia had flown into Venezuela to shore up President Nicolas Maduro’s security in the face of mass opposition protests that occurred last week.
Aside from the major news outlets covering this story, theories abound on social media, as countless people are offering speculation as to what they believe the aircraft’s purpose is. Some are claiming the aircraft was ferrying mercenaries to Caracas, while others saying that the aircraft was there to escort Maduro into exile along with the alleged gold on board.
None of these theories are based on any credible evidence at this point, but the intense speculation only underscores the fragile and uncertain status of the country, as Maduro clings to power while facing a growing coalition of nations calling for him to step down.
Russia has claimed no knowledge of plane sent to Venezuela “to extract 20 tonnes of gold from national bank” but the plane was confirmed to have landed at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow early Thursday morning.
Let’s offer our own two pesos of speculation here. In addition to the Nordwind Airlines passenger jet, another aircraft, a privately-owned Gulfstream G550 (registration number TC-TTC) has mysteriously flown the same route during the past week. Are these aircraft operating under the same orders to transit persons and valuables out of Caracas?
Let’s also assume for a moment that $840 million dollars in gold bars was loaded on to the aircraft for transit back to Moscow- the question becomes- what’s the reason for this apparently illicit transfer? Could Maduro be plotting to flee the country once he’s looted what he can from its holdings? Or is he buying the protection of the Russian government to keep him in power?