Fact check: CNN report on Russian bombers in Venezuela is from 2018

·3 min read

The claim: Russia deployed nuclear weapons 'in America's backyard,' CNN reported

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues into another week, some social media users are claiming Russian President Vladimir Putin has deployed nuclear threats to the U.S.'s own doorstep.

"Russia deploys two nuke bombers in US backyard, Venezuela," reads the caption of a Feb. 28 Facebook post.

Accompanying the caption is a CNN news clip with a chyron that asserts Putin is "making military moves in America's backyard."

CNN correspondent Brian Todd is featured in the report saying Putin is "on America's doorstep with nuclear-capable bombers that can fly at twice the speed of sound."

"The deployment comes on the heels of Putin's recent military aggression against Ukraine," Todd says in the video.

The clip, which accrued about 14,000 shares in four days, is authentic. But it predates by more than three years the current Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The broadcast referred to a training exercise between Russian and Venezuelan forces in 2018.

Independent fact-checkers, including Reuters and The Associated Press, have debunked the claim.

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The Facebook user who posted the video told USA TODAY in a Facebook message that they shared the video because "such a development is a cause for concern globally."

Russia sent bombers to Venezuela for training exercise in 2018

CNN reported on Russian bombers arriving in Venezuela in December 2018, more than three years before Russia invaded Ukraine.

The news outlet said in its video that two Tu-160 bombers and two support planes were deployed to Venezuela to carry out joint military exercises over the Caribbean.

The Tu-160 can carry conventional or nuclear-tipped cruise missiles with a range of about 3,400 miles. It was unclear at the time whether the aircraft were carrying any weapons, The Associated Press reported.

Fact check: Video shows American train carrying tanks, not Russian military convoy

Bombers also were deployed to Venezuela in 2008 and 2013, according to BBC.

The military relationship between Russia and Venezuela goes back to 1999 when Russia helped the Latin American country build its military arsenal. Russia has since sent specialists to help maintain aircraft and weapons, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank based in Washington, D.C.

USA TODAY has debunked similar claims about the invasion of Ukraine, including that Russian soldiers were preparing nuclear weapons.

Our rating: Missing context

Based on our research, we rate MISSING CONTEXT the claim that Russia deployed nuclear weapons "in America's backyard," according to a CNN report, because it could be misleading without additional information. The video was recorded and orginally posted online in 2018, when two Russian bombers arrived in Venezuela to carry out military exercises over the Caribbean. The video has nothing to do with the current invasion of Ukraine, as the Facebook post makes it seem.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: CNN 2018 report on Russian bombers in Venezuela resurfaces