This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
U.S. President Donald Trump has called on Russia to withdraw its troops from Venezuela and warned that “all options” were open to achieve that.
“Russia has to get out,” Trump told reporters on March 27 in the Oval Office, where he met with Fabiana Rosales, the wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognized by the United States and more than 50 other countries as the South American country’s interim president.
Asked how he would make Russian forces leave, Trump said: “We’ll see. All options are open.”
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met with Rosales to voice support for Guaido, who invoked the constitution to assume the interim presidency in January, saying President Nicolas Maduro’s re-election was fraudulent.
Trump’s latest comments come after two Russian military planes landed outside Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, on March 23, carrying nearly 100 Russian military personnel.
The U.S. government believes the troops include special forces and cybersecurity experts.
“The United States views Russia’s arrival of military planes this weekend as an unwelcome provocation,” Pence told reporters.
“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,” Pence said.
Guaido on March 27 called for renewed protests against the Maduro government and said that the “the regime is on the brink of collapse.”
Guaido, who leads the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself interim president in January.
Maduro was sworn in for a second term in January following elections in May 2018 that were marred by an opposition boycott and claims of vote-rigging, leading to mass street protests.
Russia has made billions in investments in Venezuela and has remained a staunch ally of Maduro.