The arrival of two Russian air force planes outside Caracas on Saturday believed to be carrying nearly 100 Russian special forces and cybersecurity personnel has escalated the political crisis in Venezuela.
During an Oval Office meeting with Fabiana Rosales, the wife of Juan Guaido, the president of the country’s National Assembly, who the Trump administration recognizes as Venezuela’s acting president, Trump was asked whether Russia’s involvement complicates the situation in Venezuela.
“Russia has to get out,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, where he met with Guaido’s wife, Fabiana Rosales.
Asked how he would make Russian forces leave, Trump said: “We’ll see. All options are open.”
If Russia doesn’t leave Venezuela, Trump said: “We’ll see. We’ll see. All options are open … all options are open.”
Trump’s stance against Russia’s involvement in Venezuela comes against the backdrop of his repeated defense of Russia in other settings — including believing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims that his government did not interfere with the 2016 US election and sticking up for Russia among world leaders at the last G7 summit.
Earlier Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence also addressed Saturday’s arrival of the Russian planes.
“The United States 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 (Nicolas) 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 recognizing Guaido as the acting leader of Venezuela, Russia has continued to back embattled Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.