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.
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.
The United States on Monday accused Russia of "reckless escalation" of the situation in Venezuela by deploying military planes and personnel to the crisis-stricken South American nation that Washington has hit with crippling sanctions.
The Russian planes and military personnel arrived outside the Venezuelan capital Caracas on Saturday, according to local media reports, two months after theTrump administration disavowed President Nicolas Maduro.
Washington has recognized Guaido as the country's legitimate president and demands that Maduro leave power, which Russia has described as a U.S.-backed coup against the socialist government.
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"The United States condemns Russia's deployment of military aircraft and personnel to Caracas, which is another contradiction of both Nicolas Maduro's and Russia's calls for non-intervention in Venezuela and is a reckless escalation of the situation," a State Department spokesman said.