Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday and called on Russia “to cease its unconstructive behavior” in Venezuela, State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement.
The United States “will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela,” the statement said.
“The continued insertion of Russian military personnel to support the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela risks prolonging the suffering of the Venezuelan people who overwhelmingly support interim President Juan Guaido,” the statement said.
Russian planes arrived on Saturday at Simon Bolivar International Airport near Caracas, a diplomatic source in Caracas told Russian state-owned media RIA Novosti.
According to the source, the military came to consult with representatives of Venezuela on military-technical cooperation.
The source noted that “there is nothing mysterious” because the arrival of the planes is directly related to the implementation of contracts that were signed by the parties many years ago, RIA Novosti reported.
Also Monday, lights went out across much of Venezuela, including many areas of the capital city of Caracas, according to Reuters witnesses, less than two weeks after power was restored following a prolonged blackout.