President Donald Trump said Friday after a phone call with Russian president Vladimir Putin that Putin has no desire to involve Russia in the spiraling political crisis in Venezuela.
“We talked about many things. Venezuela was one of the topics. And he is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela other than he’d like to see something positive happen for Venezuela, and I feel the same way,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
The U.S. recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful leader, while Russia supports President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist regime. The call between Trump and Putin was apparently their first conversation since Guaidó launched an effort to overthrow Maduro earlier this week. A month ago, when Putin sent a contingent of special forces to Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, Trump said that “Russia has to get out.” And on Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Moscow of convincing Maduro to stay in the country just as he was about to flee amid escalating tensions.
“He had an airplane on the tarmac, he was ready to leave this morning as we understand it, and the Russians indicated he should stay,” Pompeo said.
Guaido, the National Assembly president, this week called on the opposition to take to the streets to oust Maduro, but most of the military has remained loyal to Maduro thus far. Trump said Friday that the main U.S. concern was for the well-being of ordinary Venezuelans.
“We want to get some humanitarian aid; right now people are starving, they have no water, they have no food,” he said. “[Venezuela was] one of the richest countries in the world 20 years ago and now they don’t have food and they don’t have water for their people. So we want to help on a humanitarian basis.”