Friday, October 22, 2021

US slams Russian military presence in Venezuela

Washington, Mar 29 (EFE).- The United States’ national security adviser on Friday blasted Russia’s deployment of military personnel and equipment to Venezuela, calling it a provocative move.

John Bolton made his remarks in a statement posted on the White House’s Web site.

US President Donald Trump’s administration “condemns (leftist Venezuelan leader) Nicolas Maduro’s continued use of foreign military personnel in his attempt to remain in power, including the introduction of Russian military personnel and equipment into Venezuela,” he said.

“Maduro will only use this military support to further repress the people of Venezuela; perpetuate the economic crisis that has destroyed Venezuela’s economy; and endanger regional stability,” Bolton added.

The United States is one of dozens of nations that consider Maduro’s re-election victory last year to be fraudulent and have recognized Juan Guaido, the speaker of the opposition-led National Assembly (unicameral legislature), as Venezuela’s interim head of state.

Guaido proclaimed himself to be the country’s acting president on Jan. 23 and since then has unsuccessfully called on the Venezuelan military to withdraw its support for Maduro.

Bolton once again took up that theme in his latest statement.

“We call on the Venezuelan military to uphold its constitutional duty to protect the citizens of Venezuela,” the US national security adviser said.

In a clear reference to Russia, he also warned countries in other regions not to interfere in the ongoing political crisis in Venezuela.

“We strongly caution actors external to the Western Hemisphere against deploying military assets to Venezuela, or elsewhere in the hemisphere, with the intent of establishing or expanding military operations,” he said. “We will consider such provocative actions as a direct threat to international peace and security in the region.”

The statement was issued two days after Trump said during a surprise meeting at the White House with Fabiana Rosales, Guaido’s wife, that “Russia has to get out” of the oil-rich South American country.

Asked how he would make Russian military personnel leave, Trump said, “We’ll see. All options are open.”

Last weekend, scores of Russian soldiers under the command of Maj. Gen. Vasily Tonkoshkurov landed at Caracas’ Maiquetia international airport on board two military aircraft.

Russia earlier this week defended that move and also fired back at the US, accusing Washington of trying to orchestrate a coup in Venezuela in clear violation of the United Nations’ charter.

While the US and nearly 50 other nations recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, China, Russia and India are among the dozens of countries that continue to support Maduro.

Maduro’s administration regularly refers to Russia, a provider of weapons, technology and other resources to Venezuela, as a “strategic ally.”

The ongoing political standoff in Venezuela comes amid a severe economic crisis marked by shortages of basic goods and hyperinflation.