U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that Russian soldiers needed to leave Venezuela, days after a Russian military contingent arrived just outside of Caracas, saying "all options" were open to make that happen.
"Russia has to get out," Trump told reporters during a meeting with the wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido - who he called "the first lady of Venezuela." Asked how that could be accomplished, Trump said: "We'll see. All options are open."
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met with Fabiana 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.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry says that Russian military personnel that arrived in Venezuela over the weekend has every right to be there. U.S. Vice President Pence called Russian activity in Venezuela a provocation on Wednesday.
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The rift between Russia and the United States over how to resolve the crisis in Venezuela widened following the arrival of Russian military personnel to support Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro over the weekend.
In Moscow’s first comment on the reports of the deployment, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement late on Tuesday that Russia has sent personnel “in strict accordance” with the Venezuelan constitution and a bilateral agreement on military cooperation. She did not elaborate on how many troops Russia has sent.
Venezuela’s political crisis exacerbated after opposition leader Juan Guaido claimed interim presidency with the support of dozens of nations.