Russia on Thursday defended its decision to send troops to Venezuela to protect socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro from any potential threat, claiming that their actions are “in strict accordance” with the Venezuelan constitution and a bilateral agreement on military cooperation.
Over the weekend, around 100 Russian troops accompanied by a cargo plane loaded of military equipment landed in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, with the aim of protecting Maduro regime from any potential threat. The move sparked anger from the Trump administration, who have committed to ousting Maduro’s socialist regime and instigating a transition to democracy in the crisis-stricken country.
In a statement on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Russian troops would stay in the country as “for as long as needed” and accused the U.S. of trying to “stage a coup” in the country through the threat of military action.
“They are involved in the implementation of agreements in the sphere of military and technical cooperation,” said Zakharova. “Russia is not changing the balance of power in the region, Russia is not threatening anyone, unlike citizens in Washington whom I have just quoted.”
“Maybe U.S. politicians think that people in that part of the world should be grateful when Washington changes their leaders at its own discretion, killing those it doesn’t like,” she continued. “Or does the US think that people are waiting for it to bring democracy to them on the wings of its bombers? This question can be answered by Iraqis, Libyans and Serbs.”
Earlier this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. “will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela,” raising fears of a possible military standoff.
“The continued insertion of Russian military personnel to support the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela risks prolonging the suffering of the Venezuelan people who overwhelmingly support interim President Juan Guaido,” he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump warned Russia to “get out” of the Latin American country, while reaffirming his administration’s commitment to National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó, who the U.S. and other Western democracies have recognized as the country’s legitimate president.
“Russia has to get out,” Trump said during a meeting with Guaidó’s wife Fabiana Rosales in the White House. “Venezuela was and is still a country with tremendous potential where people are starving. They’re getting killed. They’re being beaten. What’s going on there is unfathomable.”