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Trump: Russia Pulled 'Most Of Their People' From Venezuela

A Russian Ilyushin Il-62M Air Force plane, one of the two Russian military planes that arrived with troops and equipment to Venezuela the previous weekend, sits on the tamrac at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Maiquetia, on March 29.

U.S. President Donald Trump says Russia has told the United States that it has removed "most of their people" from Venezuela.

"Russia has informed us that they have removed most of their people from Venezuela," Trump tweeted on June 3 during a state visit to Britain.​

There was no immediate comment on Trump's statement from Russian officials, and neither Trump nor the White House elaborated on the statement.

Trump's comments came a day after The Wall Street Journal reported that Russia had removed key advisers from Venezuela, as part of a gradual drawdown of personnel.

In March, Trump called on Russia to "get out" of Venezuela after Moscow deployed around 100 military personnel to the Latin American country, where opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president in January.

Guaido is backed by the United States and more than 50 other countries, while socialist President Nicolas Maduro is backed by allies such as Russia and China.​

Earlier on June 3, Russia's state-owned conglomerate Rostec dismissed the Journal report, which said that Russia's presence in Venezuela had been reduced to a few dozen.

Rostec said in a statement that the numbers cited by the Journal report "were exaggerated dozens of times over."

The conglomerate is in charge of training Venezuelan specialists to operate and maintain Russian military hardware.

"As for technical specialists, they periodically arrive in the country for the repair and maintenance of previously supplied equipment. For example, technical maintenance was recently completed on a batch of aircraft," Rostec said.

Maduro took office in 2013 and was sworn in for a second term in January following elections in May 2018 that were marred by an opposition boycott and claims of vote-rigging.

Maduro has been criticized for alleged human rights abuses and for his handling of Venezuela's economy.

With reporting by AFP and Interfax
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