The United States has again warned Russia to stay out of Venezuela, where Moscow recently sent military personnel to support the socialist government that Washington has sought to oust.
Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Gil, returning home from a visit to Moscow, said that Russia could soon expand its military presence in Venezuela.
Discussing the situation during an interview, Pompeo said that he saw no evidence that Moscow would heed Washington’s requests to pull out personnel from Venezuela, which he said differed from the conflict in Syria because “it’s in our neighborhood.” Despite having held “direct talks” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the top U.S. diplomat then warned that the situation may “get worse before it gets better.”
Pompeo told representatives of the U.S.-led NATO military alliance the previous day that “the American position was made clear” by President Donald Trump, who last week warned that “all options are open” in expelling up to 100 Russian military personnel who arrived late last month in Venezuela.
“The United States has its responses being prepared,” Pompeo told reporters at Thursday’s NATO gathering.
Russian officials have repeatedly dismissed threats from their U.S. counterparts over deployment in Venezuela. As Moscow’s state-run Rostec opened a military helicopter training center there, Russian personnel were said to also be fulfilling “military-technical cooperation” between the two countries by reportedly maintaining the Russian-built S-300 surface-to-air defense system. The system was sold to Caracas under former President Hugo Chávez, who survived a 2002 coup attempt allegedly linked to officials in Washington.
Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Gil, returning home from a visit to Moscow y, said that Russia could soon expand its military presence in Venezuela.
“New missions will probably arrive” to reinforce the contingent of 100 soldiers deployed in Caracas at the end of March, Gil noted.
According to the deputy minister, no specific duration for the soldiers’ stay in the country has been set.
“The group of specialist soldiers is as part of our agreements and contracts for military and technical cooperation, as has been said already. They will be there for as long as they are needed,” Interfax cites Gil as saying.
Venezuela’s ties to Russia are now “very intensive”, Gil emphasized:
over the next few months, Caracas will send its ministers of oil, defense and economy to Moscow, and in turn expects “high-level visits” from Russia.
Maria Zakharova, the official spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said that US President Donald Trump’s demand that Russia “get out” of Venezuela is “boorishness on a global scale”.
The feud between Washington and Moscow comes amid a larger falling out on various world issues such as the collapse of a 1987 treaty that banned missiles with the same ranges that caused the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and conflicting positions on Syria, where the U.S. also attempted to oust a government backed by Russia.