Kremlin contradicts Trump on personnel in Venezuela

Kremlin contradicts Trump on personnel in Venezuela
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Russian officials on Tuesday contradicted an announcement from President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' MORE that the Kremlin has “removed most of their people” from Venezuela, Reuters reported.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters this week that most of its military specialists were still working in Venezuela, despite Trump's tweet on Monday that Russia told the U.S. otherwise.

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“By all appearances, it’s a circumstantial reference to newspaper sources of information, because there was no official message about this from the Russian side and there couldn’t be one,” Peskov said, according to Reuters. “There really are [Russian] specialists who service hardware that’s been previously delivered and that process is going according to plan.”

Trump tweeted his claim Monday after The Wall Street Journal reported that Russian defense contractor Rostec had reduced staff in the South American nation to a few dozen, according to Reuters.

Rostec said the Journal overstated how much staff it had previously had in Venezuela by a factor of “dozens” and that its permanent staff in the nation had been the same for years.

According to Reuters, Rostec said technical staff with the contractor are constantly cycling in and out of Venezuela to repair or otherwise service military hardware. The contractor said several had departed recently after technical specialists finished servicing aircraft.

“I don’t know what [the tweet] is a reaction to, better to find out from the American side,” Reskov said Tuesday.

Trump had previously called for Russia to "get out" of Venezuela, but said following a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month said the Russian leader was "not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela."

Members of the Trump administration, including national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have repeatedly accused Russia of propping up Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's government.