US, Russia lock horns over Venezuela

Tue 26 Mar 2019, 13:15:52
The US and Russia clashed publicly over Venezuela today, raising geopolitical stakes over the oil-producing nation after Moscow sent dozens of soldiers to Caracas amid what it alleged was a budding coup.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov over the phone that the United States and regional countries will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela. 

The tense conversation came after Russia sent two planes reportedly carrying around 100 soldiers and 35 tons of military equipment to Venezuela's main airport outside Caracas on Saturday.

Although Russian state news agency Sputnik described the troop arrival as a movement to fulfill technical military contracts, the development unsettled Washington. 

The US has thrown its weight behind opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president against President Nicolas Maduro. 

According to his office, Mr Pompeo said, the continued ion of Russian military personnel to support the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela risks prolonging the suffering of the Venezuelan people.

In a statement, Mr Lavrov said that during his conversation with Mr Pompeo, he had complained of attempts by Washington to organise a coup d'etat in Venezuela. 

The statement said, such moves constitute violations of the UN charter and undisguised interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.

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