Russia has troops on the ground in Venezuela, officials from both countries have confirmed publicly for the first time, saying the deployment was provided for military consultations and was not linked to the “possibility of military operations”.
“Military experts are there; they are tasked with the practical implementation of provisions of military-technical cooperation agreements,” a Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman said in a televised briefing.
The remarks came five days after photographs showed nearly 100 Russian servicemen disembarking from two military planes in Caracas, stoking concerns in Washington that Moscow was increasing its support for Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro.
The presence of Russian troops in Venezuela has infuriated Donald Trump, who said on Thursday that “all options” were open to make Moscow withdraw its forces.
“Russia has to get out,” Trump said at a meeting in the Oval Office with Fabiana Rosales, the wife of Juan Guaidó.
Elliot Abrams, the US special envoy on Venezuela, said the Russian presence was “very unconstructive” and clearly designed to force Maduro to look to Russia and Cuba for the country’s future.