US President Donald Trump has warned that Russia must get out of Venezuela. Two planeloads of Russian troops are currently in the Latin American country under the terms of a 2001 cooperation treaty.
Speaking at the White House, Trump also warned that “all options are open” when it comes to getting Russia out of Venezuela.
Around 100 Russian troops touched down in Caracas on Saturday, a show of support for President Nicolas Maduro’s government. The move caused consternation in Washington, however, with Vice President Mike Pence calling the deployment an “unnecessary provocation.”
Pence also called on Russia to withdraw its support of Maduro and “stand with Juan Guaido,” the Washington-sponsored opposition leader who declared himself interim president in January.
Trump met with Guaido’s wife, Fabiana Rosales, on Wednesday, and pledged his support to her husband. After the momentum behind his play for the presidency fizzled out, Guaido has continued to criticize Maduro’s government, on Tuesday accusing the Venezuelan leader of violating the country’s constitution by welcoming the Russian troops.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, insisted that the deployment was carried out “in strict accordance with the constitution of that country and with full respect for its legal norms.”
US officials have repeatedly warned Russia against intervening in the Guaido/Maduro power struggle. National Security Adviser John Bolton tweeted on Monday that the “United States will not tolerate hostile foreign military powers meddling with the Western Hemisphere’s shared goals of democracy, security, and the rule of law.”
Bolton’s words echoed those of Senate Armed Services Committee chair Jim Inhofe (R-Iowa), who threatened “whatever action necessary” should Russia encroach on “our hemisphere” last month.