US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday he hopes the Russians will stop supporting Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro amid the South American nation’s ongoing political crisis.
“The Russians have chosen to support the Maduro regime, I hope they will change their way,” Pompeo told reporters outside an emergency UN Security Council meeting. “I hope they will come to see that the rightful people to run this country are those that the Venezuelan people so chose and so we’ll have conversations with every country including the Russians, we’ll talk with the Chinese, we’ll talk with everyone, we think the whole world ought to get behind what it is that the Venezuelan people have demanded for their country.”
Juan Guaido, who leads the National Assembly in Venezuela, declared himself acting president on Wednesday amid massive anti-government protests. President Donald Trump announced later he would be recognizing Guaido as the president of the country.
“In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country’s constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant. The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law,” Trump said in a statement recognizing Guaido as interim president of Venezuela.
Maduro has now also accused the US of meddling and has given US diplomats until this weekend to leave his country.
On Saturday, Pompeo was asked about what the US’ next steps would be in Venezuela – specifically regarding sanctions and possible US military action.
Pompeo said he wasn’t going to “speculate on what other process the United States might undertake.”
Other countries including China, Turkey, Syria and Russia have criticized the United States’ move to recognize Guaido as the legitimate leader.
“The United States is helping to recover a brighter future for Venezuela. We’re here to urge all nations to support the democratic aspirations of the Venezuelan people as they try to free themselves from former President Maduro’s illegitimate mafia state,” Pompeo said Saturday at the United Nations.
CNN’s Tony Marco and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.