U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Monday over a phone call to, “cease its unconstructive behavior,” by continuing to aid Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
“The secretary told Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov that the United States and regional countries will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela,” said State Department Spokesman Robert Palladino.
According to the Russian foreign ministry, Lavrov responded by saying that he believed the United States tried staging a coup in Venezuela, which they said would have violated the U.N. charter.
Russia, an ally of socialist Venezuela since 2006, landed two of their military planes in an airport near Caracas Saturday, after the countries had “joint military exercises” three months prior.
Venezuelan journalist Javier Mayorca wrote on Twitter that he witnessed 100 troops exit from the planes, one being an Antonov-124 cargo plane and the other a jet. Both Venezuela and Russian officials said that troops landed near Caracas to, “discuss equipment maintenance, training and strategy,” according to The Guardian.
While not directly referencing the planes, the State Department berated the Russian military for assisting the “illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro.” Pompeo encouraged Russia over the phone call to stand with the United States in supporting opposition leader Juan Guaido.
The Council on Foreign Relations stated that Venezuela remains a tactical advantage to Russia not only because of the country’s oil supply but because it’s allowed the nation to compete against the U.S. for influence in Latin America.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that the stationing of Russian troops in Venezuelan soil poses a threat to national security.
#Russia is deploying military personnel in W. Hemisphere in #Venezuela.— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 25, 2019
This is a direct challenge to our national interest & poses a direct threat to our national security.
It must & I am confident will be addressed.