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Trump: ‘Russia has to get out’ of Venezuela

President Trump on Wednesday warned Russia against involvement in Venezuela amid U.S. efforts to back opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

“Russia has to get out,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office as he met with Guaidó’s wife, Fabiana Rosales.

Asked if he’d communicated that message to Russia through one of his representatives, Trump said “they know very well.”

{mosads}Russia’s presence in Venezuela has sparked tensions, particularly amid reports that two military airplanes carrying advisers and roughly 100 troops landed in Caracas in recent days.

The Kremlin has backed embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro even as the U.S. leads a coalition of numerous other countries that recognized Guaidó as the country’s legitimate leader. 

A Russian state news agency said the planes carried advisers and supplies, and were related to military cooperation contracts between the two countries.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday warned his counterpart in Moscow, Sergey Lavrov, that the involvement of Russian military personnel “risks prolonging the suffering of the Venezuelan people who overwhelmingly support interim President Juan Guaido,” according to a department spokesperson.

The Trump administration has undertaken a multi-faceted approach to pressure Maduro to give up power by backing Guaidó, ratcheting up sanctions and sending humanitarian aid.

Maduro has clung to power, however. His security forces detained Guaidó’s chief of staff, and he has blocked aid from entering Venezuela, increasing urgency as the country’s citizens face starvation, poverty and other hardships under his leadership.

“It is a matter of life and death, and we want life,” Rosales said through a translator on Wednesday as she met with U.S. leaders.

Trump reiterated that “all options are open” to addressing the ongoing crisis. The administration has maintained that line for weeks amid questions about whether it would send U.S. troops to Venezuela.

“Past administrations allowed this to happen,” Trump said. “I’ve inherited a mess between North Korea, and all of the problems we have all over the world, the entire Middle East and Venezuela. These are things that never — they never should have happened.”

“But I’ll fix it,” he added. “We’re fixing it all over the world. That’s what we’re going to do.”

Updated at 12:21 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Mike Pompeo Russia Russian troops Venezuela Venezuelan presidential crisis
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