Russian Federation denies withdrawing specialists from Venezuela, says cooperation is set to expand

04 Juin, 2019, 07:06 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau

President Donald Trump said on Monday that Russian Federation told the United States it had removed "most of their people" from Venezuela, where Moscow has maintained military and economic ties with socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

"Russia has informed us that they have removed most of their people from Venezuela", Trump tweeted during a state visit to Britain.

Russia's state military hardware exporter, Rosoboronexport, on its part, said that Moscow and Caracas are actually planning to increase cooperation. There was also no immediate word from Moscow.

He has clung to power with the support of Russian Federation and China, but more than 50 countries, including the US, have recognized National Assembly president Juan Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate leader.

Venezuela has been one of the largest buyers of Russia's military hardware since 2006, signing more than $10bn in contracts for equipment ranging from Kalashnikov rifles to Sukhoi jets and missile systems.

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However, if true, it could mark a significant setback for Maduro.

Russian state defense contractor Rostec, which had trained Venezuelan troops and advised on securing arms contracts, has sharply cut its staff in Venezuela, from about 1,000 personnel a few years ago at the height of cooperation between Moscow and Caracas, to a few dozen, according to a Wall Street Journal report Sunday that quoted a defense ministry source.

The Hill noted that both National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have "repeatedly blamed Russian Federation and Cuba for propping up Maduro's government".

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference in Sochi, Russia, May 15, 2019.

Trump's comments appeared to contradict his aides' harsher assessments of Russia's role in the crisis-stricken South American country.

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