Russian officials say they will send a naval task force to the Caribbean later this year for possible joint exercises with Venezuelan forces.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Andrei Nesterenk, says the nuclear-powered battle cruiser Peter the Great will lead the naval mission, which will also include the destroyer Admiral Chabanenko and other vessels including a fuel tanker. The spokesman said anti-submarine aircraft will also be sent to Venezuela, possibly in November.

The spokesman said the visit was planned long before the outbreak of the Georgian conflict and is not directed against any third country.

Russian authorities have accused the United States of rearming Georgia while using military vessels to deliver humanitarian aid to the Caucasus country. U.S. officials have denied the charge

Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez, a harsh critic of the U.S. government, has forged closer ties with Moscow, including arms purchases and other economic deals.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.