United States Air Force C-32A - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Monday afternoon as tensions over Russia’s role in propping up Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro continue.
During a gaggle with reporters onboard his plane ahead of the meeting, which will take place in Finland, Pompeo explained Maduro’s current situation and said it’s just a matter of time until he’s gone.
“We’re trying to make sure the Venezuelan people get the elected Democracy they deserve. That’s our mission,” Pompeo said. “The United States is ready to assist.”
“Maduro has to see that this is falling apart on him. I said earlier today that he still rules, there’s no way he can govern. The situation on the ground continues to get worse for the Venezuelan people,” Pompeo continued. “This week while Maduro managed to maintain control over the military in some regards, there were many military who left, a senior intelligence officer departed, a very senior official who had been closely connected to Maduro as well as his predecessor. He has to see how tenuous this is. He was in fact prepared to leave and then ultimately chose not to. He understands that time is limited and I think he’s searching for as much leverage as he can get before he ultimately makes his departure. I don’t know if that will be next week or a month from now but the Venezuelan people can see conditions continue to deteriorate and that means he can’t maintain his presence there.”
According to Pompeo and other administration officials, Maduro was convinced by the Russians to stay in the country after being ready to leave permanently for Cuba late last week.
"The United States will not tolerate foreign military interference in the Western Hemisphere. President Trump has made it clear that there will be costs for those who further Maduro’s usurpation and repression," White House National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Twitter about continued Russian interference.
During his time in Finland, Pompeo will also give a speech about Arctic policy and meet with a number of leaders from the Arctic Council.