President Donald Trump on Wednesday called on Russia to pull its recently arrived troops from Venezuela, warning that “all options” were open to the United States to make that happen.
“Russia has to get out,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, where he met with Fabiana Rosales, wife of opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Asked how he would make Russian forces leave, Trump said: “We’ll see. All options are open.”
Russia barked back at Trump’s rebuke in a statement from its Foreign Ministry. “Before giving advice to somebody to withdraw from somewhere, the United States should bring to life its own concept of exodus, particularly from Syria,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, speaking on Russia’s state Channel One.
Trump’s statement came days after two jets landed near Caracas carrying approximately one hundred Russian troops, including special forces and cyber specialists. In a recent statement, Russia confirmed the presence of its military personnel in the country. According to Foreign Ministry officials, the troops would remain in Venezuela “for as long as needed, and as long as the government of Venezuela needs them.”
Over a month ago, as the current crisis in Venezuela was gaining traction, the world began to observe the beginnings of major power conflict over the country’s future. While the free world has unanimously come out in support of Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, Russia has remained a firm supporter of dictator Nicolás Maduro.
The official position of Russia is that its support for Maduro is for Venezuela’s sake. “Russia has a longstanding, highly developed and mutually beneficial relationship with Venezuela,” said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. “Russia has contractual obligations based on previously signed documents, contracts to supply special equipment. To implement these contracts, Russia is taking the actions that its taking.”
The truth, however, is that Russia is protecting itself against the almost inevitable outcome of Maduro’s fall: a liberal, free state, headed by a friend of the United States. Russia does not want to see yet another country in South America fall under American influence and patronage. To check America’s influence in the Southern Hemisphere, Russia is willing to prop up a dictatorial regime at the expense of its long-suffering citizens.