Russia's Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova rejected Thursday President Donald Trump's statements regarding the presence of Russian military in Venezuela and noted that her country's actions were legitimate and agreed upon with the President Nicolas Maduro administration.
US Calls on Russia to Withdraw from Venezuela
"The Russian side did not violate anything: neither the international agreements nor Venezuelan laws. Russia is not changing the balance of power in the region; Russia is not threatening anyone, unlike [Washington officials]," Zakharova said and added that "Russian specialists... arrived in accordance with the clauses of a bilateral agreement on technical-military cooperation."
The spokeswoman called the U.S. criticism "an arrogant attempt" to dictate to sovereign states how their bilateral relations should be.
"Neither Russia nor Venezuela are U.S. provinces," the Kremlin spokeswoman insisted and explained that the Russian military presence in Venezuela "is not linked to possible military operations."
The official also stressed that her country respects the Venezuelan people and its elected rulers. "If we talk about the authority, there is no authority in Venezuela except the President's Maduro government," she said.
President Trump Wednesday called on Russia to pull its military from Venezuela and indicated that the U.S. maintains "all options open" for the Russian military to leave that country. In a similar sense, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted that Russia's influence on Cuba and Nicaragua must be stopped.
The U.S. reaction comes after the arrival of two Russian planes into Venezuela on Feb. 23. According to local media, these planes carried 99 military personnel and 35 tons of material, an operation which was carried out under the command of the Ground Army Chief General Vasily Tonkoshkurov.
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman also commented that the U.S. should be more concerned about fulfilling its promises about Syria than about what Russia and Venezuela should do.
"Before advising someone to leave somewhere, the U.S. needs to implement its own exit plan from Syria... a month has passed... can it be specified if it has been retired or not?" Zakharova asked and added that "I would advise the U.S. administration to fulfill promises given to the international community before handling other countries' legitimate interests."