TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza refuted on Monday media reports suggesting that the country's president, Nicolas Maduro, had asked Moscow for military aid amid the escalating political crisis in Venezuela.
On Friday, the Reuters news agency reported that about 400 Russian private military contractors "who do secret missions for Russia" arrived in Venezuela to help protect Maduro from protesters.
Russian Ambassador in Caracas Vladimir Zaemsky then told Sputnik that the report was "another hoax." Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has also refuted the reports.
"These are just rumors," Arreaza told the RT broadcaster.
Arreaza noted that while Moscow and Caracas enjoyed extensive military cooperation, neither Russia nor any other state had military bases in Venezuela, seeing as this was prohibited by the country's constitution.
The political crisis in Venezuela escalated last week when the opposition-led Venezuelan legislature declared Maduro a usurper, and opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the country's interim president.
The move was immediately welcomed by the United States, which urged Maduro to step down and officially recognized Guaido as the country's leader.
Maduro, in turn, has insisted that he is the country's constitutional president and accused the opposition leader of being a US puppet. Maduro also accused Washington, which has long voiced concerns over the legitimacy of Maduro's re-election last year, of organizing a coup in Venezuela.
While dozens of countries, mostly those in Latin America, have recognized Guaido as the acting Venezuelan president, Russia has reaffirmed its support for Maduro as the legitimately elected head of state.
Moreover, on Saturday, such European powers as France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom gave Maduro an ultimatum stating that they would recognize Guaido as interim president if new elections were not announced in Venezuela within eight days. Maduro, for his part, has rejected the ultimatum, saying that it ignored Venezuela's rights of a sovereign state.