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Russian troops in Venezuela not linked to any military operations: Foreign ministry

File photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin with his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team Moscow, Russia Mar 28, 2019, 03.57 PM (IST)

A day after President Trump asked Russian troops to "get out" of Venezuela, the Russian foreign ministry said that its troops in Venezuela were "not linked" to any military operations.

"Russia, unlike Washington, "isn't threatening anyone" in Venezuela," the Russian foreign ministry said.

"They are involved in the implementation of agreements in the sphere of military and technical cooperation," said ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, adding they would remain in the country "for as long as needed."

"Russia is not changing the balance of power in the region, Russia is not threatening anyone unlike citizens in Washington whom I have just quoted," she added.

On Wednesday, President Trump had said that "Russia has to get out" as he met Fabiana Rosales, the wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met with Rosales to express support for her husband

The Russian foreign ministry had earlier said that  Moscow's decision to send military specialists to Caracas was in full accordance with Venezuelan law, after Russian military planes delivered troops and equipment to the country.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had warned foriegn minister Sergei Lavrov over the phone that "the United States and regional countries will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela."

"The United States views Russia's arrival of military planes this weekend as an unwelcome provocation," Pence said after meeting Rosales, adding,"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."

US has imposed heavy sanctions on Venezuela including its lucrative state oil company PDVSA. 

Last week it sanctioned a key bank, BANDES and four affiliates over their support for President Nicolas Maduro. The Trump administration had also put sanctions on Venezuelan state mining company, charging that its illicit gold operations.

The US has already pulled out its diplomats from Venezuela. The US had recognised Juan Guaido, 35, as the interim president in January, calling Maduro’s 2018 re-election a fraud. Most countries in Europe and Latin America have also recognised Guaido.
 

Story highlights

The Russian foreign ministry had earlier said that  Moscow's decision to send military specialists to Caracas was in full accordance with Venezuelan law.