By MK Bhadrakumar
This followed media reports that two Russian air force planes landed at Caracas on Saturday carrying Vasily Tonkoshkurov, chief of staff of the ground forces with nearly 100 military personnel and some 35 tonnes of material. An unnamed official at the Russian embassy in Caracas told the Sputnik that the Russian personnel had arrived to “exchange consultations. Russia has various contracts that are in the process of being fulfilled, contracts of a technical-military character.”
Zakharova’s remarks came a day after Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov received a phone call from the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on March 25. The Russian readout said Pompeo was “interested in certain issues related to the developments in Venezuela.” It added:
Sergey Lavrov emphasised that Washington’s attempts to organise a coup d’etat in Venezuela and threats to its legitimate government are a violation of the UN Charter and blatant interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state… After stating principal differences in Russian and US positions, the officials agreed to stay in touch and continue to exchange assessments.”
The state department readout, however, claimed that Pompeo warned Russia “to cease its unconstructive behavior” in Venezuela” and that Washington and its regional allies “will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions.” It also said Pompeo accused Russia of “continued insertion … to support the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela [which] risks prolonging the suffering of the Venezuelan people who overwhelmingly support interim President Juan Guaido”.
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