Trump Says Russia Told U.S. It Removed Forces From Venezuela

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(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said the Russian government informed the U.S. it had withdrawn “most of their people” from Venezuela.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the Kremlin had communicated the information to the U.S. or which personnel it had removed from Venezuela, where the Trump administration is trying to oust President Nicolas Maduro and his regime.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that Russian state defense contractor Rostec had gradually cut its staff in Venezuela to a few dozen from a peak of about 1,000, citing a person close to the Russian defense ministry. The contractor’s pullout came due to a lack of new contracts and a conclusion that Maduro doesn’t have enough cash to continue paying its services, the paper said.

Russia has maintained its support for Maduro during the Trump administration campaign to replace him. U.S. officials have asked the Russian government to abandon Maduro as the Trump administration pressures the Venezuelan leader’s remaining allies.

Rostec said it remained committed to cooperation with Venezuela, saying the Journal vastly overstated its presence there. “The composition of the mission has remained unchanged for many years,” the company told the Interfax news agency on Monday. “Technical specialists periodically come to the country to repair and maintain previously supplied equipment. Recently, for example, they completed technical work on some aircraft.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov referred questions to Rostec.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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