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Russia says it’s rotating military technicians from Venezuela

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, left, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin hold talks in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 10, 2016. (Mikhail Metzel/Tass/Abaca Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russia said it was rotating military technicians out of Venezuela, as President Nicholas Maduro’s government declared that it thwarted an alleged coup plot.

The Russian Embassy in Caracas made the announcement in a post to its Facebook page on June 26.

Moscow deployed around 100 military experts to Venezuela some three months ago, a move that infuriated Washington, which has sought to push Maduro from power.

Russia, meanwhile, is a major backer of Maduro.

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“The Il-62 plane carrying Russian technicians who have been in Venezuela over the past months…is leaving Caracas for Moscow on June 26,” the Facebook post said.

The embassy earlier said in a post to Twitter that an aircraft had arrived a day earlier, bringing another technical team for “regular maintenance” of Russian equipment.

Russia has sold hundreds of millions of dollars of weaponry to Venezuela.

The post linked to comments by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov who said that no new technicians were coming. Ryabkov called the situation “the fulfilment of after-sale service contracts.”

Maduro has been locked in a months-long struggle with opposition leader Juan Guaido, who in January declared himself acting president.

More than 50 countries led by the United States have backed Guaido.