Pointing to "the map of the U.S. military bases" around the world as evidence of American imperialism, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday his country has no plans to remove the small number of troops it has stationed in Venezuela despite- Trump administration demands to withdraw.
On March 24, a Russian military plane landed in Venezuela, depositing around 100 Russian soldiers in the country, as Common Dreams reported at the time. The move was "akin to tripwire" against U.S. intervention in Venezuela, said Washington Institute fellow Soner Cagaptay.
The move angered U.S. officials and, on March 29, President Donald Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton issued a statement criticizing Russia for its presence in the Latin American country.
"We strongly caution actors external to the Western Hemisphere against deploying military assets to Venezuela, or elsewhere in the Hemisphere, with the intent of establishing or expanding military operations," said Bolton.
The rhetoric didn't stop there: Bolton also called the Russian presence in Venezuela "a direct threat to international peace and security in the region."
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Bolton's comments didn't sit well with Lavrov. In an interview with Russian newspaper Moskovskij Komsomolets, Lavrov called U.S. demands Russian military personnel leave Venezuela "insolent" and asserted that America does not, in fact, have the right to tell Russia what to do—even in America's so-called "sphere of influence."
"What do they mean by insolent remarks that the countries external to the Western Hemisphere are not allowed to have any interests there?" Lavrov said.
Further, said Lavrov, a country like the U.S. isn't in the best position to throw stones about stationing troops in foreign countries.
"Take a look at the map of the U.S. military bases—the whole world is dotted with red spots and each of them poses rather serious risks," said Lavrov.
The U.S. operates around an estimated 800 bases worldwide, though that number moves even higher depending on how the term "bases" is defined.