Russian 'specialists' in Venezuela as part of cooperation pact
["other","Latin America"]
Russia on Tuesday asserted that the presence of Russian specialists to Venezuela in support of President Nicolas Maduro's government were part of a 2001 military-technical cooperation pact with Caracas that is in accordance with the country's law.
"Russia develops cooperation with Venezuela in strict compliance with the country's constitution and with full respect for its legislation," Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova was quoted by RT as saying.
The existing deal was ratified by both Russia and Venezuela, and it “doesn't require any additional approval from the National Assembly of Venezuela,” she pointed out.
Russia, which recognizes Maduro as the legitimate leader, on Saturday sent two planes carrying 100 troops and tons of military equipment to Venezuela, according to media reports.
Zakharova's remarks came after Washington-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido alleged that the Russian deployment violated the constitution of the troubled Latin American country.
A Russian-flagged aircraft posted on social media showing men in uniform clustered around the aircraft. /Photo via Twitter @javiermayorca

A Russian-flagged aircraft posted on social media showing men in uniform clustered around the aircraft. /Photo via Twitter @javiermayorca

"It seems (the government President Maduro) doesn't trust its own troops, because it is importing others... once again violating the constitution," Guaido said.
The Russian action also drew rebuke from the U.S. and its other regional allies.
The U.S.-backed Lima Group, a bloc of 13 Latin American states and Canada, condemned the presence of Russian military planes in Venezuela as a“provocation threatening regional peace,” while the U.S. State Department called it “a reckless escalation of the situation” in the country.
Venezuela has been in political tension since January 23 when Guaido declared himself as the country's interim president and was recognized by the U.S. and some of its allies in defiance of Maduro.

West vs East?

Washington and Moscow have locked horns over the political crisis ever since.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused the U.S. of attempting to "organize a coup d'etat" in the oil-producing nation while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that Washington would not "stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions." 
"The U.S. will not tolerate hostile foreign military powers meddling with the Western Hemisphere's shared goals of democracy, security, and the rule of law,” U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, who is seen as one of the strongest backers of regime change in Venezuela, tweeted.
A screenshot of the tweet by U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton.

A screenshot of the tweet by U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Zakharova responded to Bolton by saying that his words prove that the U.S. still considers “Latin America an area of its exclusive interests; its own ‘backyard' and demands unquestionable obedience from it” just like it was in the colonial times under the infamous Monroe Doctrine, according to RT.
"If the Americans deny other countries access to the Western Hemisphere, it begs the question what are they themselves doing in Eastern Hemisphere?” she wondered, referring to the heavy U.S. military presence in Europe and its involvement in ‘color revolutions' in former Soviet states and the Balkans.
"Perhaps, they believe that the people of this part of the world will be thankful when Washington willfully changes their leaders and kills the unwanted ones. Or the U.S. still believes that people are waiting for the Americans to bring democracy to them on the wings of their bombers. Ask Iraqis, Libyans or Serbs about it,” Zakharova said in sarcasm.
(With inputs from agencies)
(Cover: Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova. /TASS Photo)
Source(s): AFP ,Xinhua News Agency