US President Donald Trump has called on Russia to “get out” of Venezuela following recent reports of Russian planes arriving in the country.
During an Oval Office meeting on Wednesday with Fabiana Rosales, the wife of opposition National Assembly leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself as Venezuela’s interim President in January, Trump was asked whether Russia’s involvement complicates the situation in the South American nation, reports CNN.
“Russia has to get out. What’s your next question?” Trump said.
When asked what the US can do to increase pressure on the regime of incumbent Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Trump responded: “They’ve got a lot of pressure right now. They have no money, they have no oil, they have no nothing. They’ve got plenty of pressure right now. They have no electricity.
“Other than military you can’t get any more pressure than they have… All options are open.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence also addressed the arrival of the Russian planes at the Simon Bolivar International Airport near Caracas on March 23.
“The US views Russia’s arrival of military planes this weekend as an unwelcome provocation and we call on Russia today to cease all support for the Maduro regime, and stand with Guaido, stand with nations across this hemisphere and around the world until freedom is restored,” Pence said.
While the Trump administration made a bold declaration by recognising Guaido as the acting leader of Venezuela, Russia has continued to back the embattled Maduro.
In December, signs pointed to Russia and Venezuela deepening ties as the Kremlin extended a lifeline to the cash-stripped country by agreeing to restructure $3.15 billion of debt payments that it owes Moscow.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday and called on Moscow “to cease its unconstructive behaviour” in Venezuela.
Pompeo also warned that Washington “will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela”.