Russian military team arrives in Caracas: Venezuela officer
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Members of the Russian military have arrived in Venezuela but will not take part in military operations, Venezuela’s military attache in Moscow was cited as saying by Interfax news agency on Thursday.
A spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry subsequently said Russia had sent a team of specialists to Venezuela discuss military cooperation at the request of the government in Caracas.
US President Donald Trump called on Russia on Wednesday to pull troops out of Venezuela and said “all options” were open to make that happen. Two Russian air force planes landed outside Caracas on Saturday carrying nearly 100 Russian troops, according to media reports. Russia had until now declined to comment on the reports.
“The presence of Russian servicemen in Venezuela is linked to the discussion of cooperation in the military-technical sphere,” Jose Rafael Torrealba Perez said, according to Interfax.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at her weekly news briefing on Thursday that “Russia is not changing the balance of power in the region, Russia is not threatening anyone, unlike citizens (officials) in Washington.”
“Russian specialists have arrived in Venezuela in line with the provisions of a bilateral inter-government agreement on military-technical cooperation. No one cancelled this document,” she said.
In Venezuela’s recent political crisis, Russia and China have backed President Nicolas Maduro, while the United States and most other Western countries support opposition leader Juan Guaido. In January, Guaido invoked the constitution to assume Venezuela’s interim presidency, arguing that Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate.
Trump tells Russia to get its troops out of Venezuela
US President Donald Trump 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.