Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called on Russia and the Vatican to help fend off what he described as a U.S. "military threat," and said he will soon go to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A Vatican envoy visiting Moscow earlier in the day had called on Russia to help ease tensions in Venezuela, where Maduro has faced months of mass protests by people who blame him for the Latin American country's deep economic crisis. About 125 people have been killed in clashes between protesters and security forces since April 1.
"I ask for the pope's help against the military threat from the United States," Maduro said at a news conference in Caracas, saying he fears a U.S. invasion after U.S. President Donald Trump said earlier this month that he would consider military intervention against Maduro's increasingly authoritarian government.
Russia rejected Trump's threat as "unacceptable," and Maduro said he wants to "keep strengthening military cooperation" with Moscow to fend off the U.S. threat.
Russia recently sold fighter jets and ground-to-air missiles to Venezuela.
"Venezuela has the full and absolute support of Russia," Maduro said, adding that he will soon visit with Putin, who he called a "man of peace."