MOSCOW: The Kremlin said on Thursday that Nicolas Maduro was the legitimate president of Venezuela and that outside attempts to usurp power in the Latin American country flouted international law.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Wednesday, winning the backing of Washington and prompting socialist incumbent Maduro, who has led the oil-rich nation since 2013, to sever diplomatic relations with the United States.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said outside interference in the country was “unacceptable” and that statements by US officials suggesting the possibility of military intervention there were very dangerous.
In a televised broadcast from the presidential palace, Maduro cut ties with the United States – accusing the opposition of seeking to stage a coup with the support of the US.
Maduro told US diplomatic personnel they had 72 hours to leave the country.
The socialist leader started a second term earlier this month following a widely-boycotted election last year that many foreign governments described as a sham.
Following Trump’s support for Guaido – similar statements came from Canada and a slew of right-leaning Latin American governments, including Venezuela’s neighbors Brazil and Colombia.
Experts say ultimately – a change in government in Venezuela will rest on a shift in allegiance within the armed forces.
They have stood by Maduro through two violent waves of street protests, a collapsing economy and a steady dismantling of democratic institutions.