WASHINGTON (Reuters) - US President Donald Trump on Wednesday called on Russia to pull its troops from Venezuela and warned that “all options” were open to make that happen.
“Russia has to get out,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, where he met with Fabiana Rosales, the wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Two Russian air force planes landed outside Caracas on Saturday carrying nearly 100 Russian troops. The US government believes the troops include special forces and cybersecurity personnel.
Asked how he would make Russian forces leave, Trump said: “We’ll see. All options are open.”
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met with Rosales to express support for her husband, who invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency in January, saying President Nicolas Maduro’s re-election was not legitimate.
“The United States views Russia’s arrival of military planes this weekend as an unwelcome provocation,” Pence told reporters.
“We call on Russia today to cease all support of the Maduro regime and stand with Juan Guaido and stand with nations across this hemisphere and across the world until freedom is restored,” Pence said.
Venezuela releases US journalist after full day in custody
Venezuela’s government released an American journalist and his local colleague, after they spent more than 12 hours in custody in a move that drew further international condemnation of socialist President Nicolas Maduro’s government.
In the latest crackdown on a challenge to his rule by opposition leader Juan Guaido
, Maduro also expelled the German ambassador, accusing him of repeated meddling in the country’s affairs. The United States said it was set to impose sanctions on banks to ramp up pressure on Maduro to leave office.
Most Western countries, including the United States and Germany, have recognised Guaido as the OPEC nation’s legitimate head of state and back his plan to install a transition government ahead of free elections. Guaido says Maduro’s re-election last year resulted from a sham vote and blames him for an economic collapse that has led to widespread shortages and hyperinflation.