Washington: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday (local time) urged Russia to “cease its unconstructive behaviour” as it is “exacerbating tensions” in Venezuela.
This comes hours after reports appeared in the media that two Russian military jets reportedly reached Caracas.
According to Anadolu Agency, Pompeo telephoned his Moscow counterpart Sergei Lavrov and asked Russia to “cease its unconstructive behaviour”, US State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement.
” The continued insertion of Russian military personnel to support the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela risks prolonging the suffering of the Venezuelan people who overwhelmingly support interim President Juan Guaido,” the statement further read.
Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that Russia would send medicine “next week” to Venezuela, amid reports of strengthening ties between Caracas and Moscow.
According to Al Jazeera, the Maduro regime in February had blocked a convoy carrying humanitarian aid from entering into Venezuela via the border with Colombia. He also ordered the closure of Venezuela’s border with Brazil “until further notice” amid a tense standoff with the US-backed Opposition leader, Juan Guaido, over allowing in humanitarian aid.
The South American nation is crippled with a political and economic crisis since January after Guaido proclaimed himself as the President of the nation in January. While most European countries have recognised Guaido as the interim President, countries like Russia, China, Turkey, amongst others, have slammed foreign interference in Venezuela and shown support for Maduro.
Maduro, who is the elected President of the nation, decried the events and accused the US of plotting a coup to overthrow him by supporting Guaido. He continues to hold on to his post despite calls by the international community for fresh elections.
Amongst other sanctions, the US has previously proscribed Venezuela’s state-owned oil and natural gas company PDVSA in a bid to stifle funding to the Maduro regime.