Venezuelan Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Gil, returning home from a visit to Moscow on Thursday, said that Russia could soon expand its military presence in Venezuela.
“New missions will probably arrive” to reinforce the contingent of 100 soldiers deployed in Caracas at the end of March, Gil noted.
According to the deputy minister, no specific duration for the soldiers’ stay in the country has been set. “The group of specialist soldiers is [in Venezuela] as part of our agreements and contracts for military and technical cooperation, as has been said already. They will be there for as long as they are needed,” Interfax cites Gil as saying.
Venezuela’s ties to Russia are now “very intensive”, Gil emphasized: over the next few months, Caracas will send its ministers of oil, defense and economy to Moscow, and in turn expects “high-level visits” from Russia.
Maria Zakharova, official spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said that US President Donald Trump’s demand that Russia “get out” of Venezuela is “boorishness on a global scale”.
“What does ‘get out’ mean? Must the embassy get out? Must the tourists get out? Must the energy companies terminate their contracts? What does ‘get out’ mean? To tell Russia to get out of Venezuela is going too far. You can be insistent or even pushy in your stance, but there must be some kind of basis for it. But what basis is there here? None. There is no legal basis, and certainly no moral one,” Zakharova said.
Washington considers the presence of Russian troops in Venezuela a “direct threat” to the West, US National Security Advisor John Bolton commented one day later.
“We strongly caution actors external to the Western Hemisphere against deploying military assets to Venezuela, or elsewhere in the Hemisphere, with the intent of establishing or expanding military operations. We will consider such provocative actions as a direct threat to international peace and security in the region,” Bolton said in a statement.