Russia dismisses US demand to withdraw troops from Venezuela

Russia is dismissing calls to withdraw troops from Venezuela amid the South American nation's ongoing leadership crisis, saying its presence is “in strict accordance” with the Venezuelan constitution.

In a statement Tuesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the U.S. of attempting a coup in Venezuela through its recognition of assembly leader Juan Guiadó as interim president.

ADVERTISEMENT

“As in colonial times 200 years ago, the U.S. continues to regard Latin America as a zone for its exclusive interests, its own ‘backyard’ and they directly demand that it should obey the U.S. without a word and that other countries should steer clear of the region,” Zakharova said. “[D]oes the U.S. think that people are waiting for it to bring democracy to them on the wings of its bombers? This question can be answered by Iraqis, Libyans and Serbs.”

Russia has continued to back Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro as other nations, led by the U.S., recognize Guiadó as the true authority in Caracas. Two Russian Air Force planes, containing nearly 100 troops and a Russian defense official, reportedly landed in the capital last weekend.

On Wednesday, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he will 'temporarily hold off' on declaring Mexican drug cartels as terror organization House Judiciary Committee formally receives impeachment report Artist behind gold toilet offered to Trump sells banana duct-taped to a wall for 0,000 MORE said Russia “has to get out” of Venezuela during a meeting with Guaidó’s wife, Fabiana Rosales.

Zakharova made her remarks before Trump’s comments, but the president said Wednesday that the Russians “know very well” his position. On Monday, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump says he will 'temporarily hold off' on declaring Mexican drug cartels as terror organization West Bank annexation would endanger Israel's security House approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump MORE told his Kremlin counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that Russian involvement in Venezuela "risks prolonging the suffering of the Venezuelan people who overwhelmingly support interim President Juan Guaido.”

Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper chamber of Russia’s Parliament, defended Moscow's involvement in Venezuela as “fully legitimate,” according to ABC News, and called on the U.S. to curtail its role.

“[T]he withdrawal of the 'global cop' will definitely help independence and democracy in those regions much more than its constant military presence,” Kosachev said, according to ABC.