The United States has been supporting Venezuela opposition leadership as the country faces a potential regime change.
On Monday, a crucial step may have taken place to assure the ouster of embattled President Nicolás Maduro from power in the Latin American country.
It has long been the belief by members of the Trump Administration that the Russian government has helped prop up Maduro despite the economic catastrophe facing Venezuela. The International Monetary Fund estimates Venezuela’s 2019 hyperinflation will hit 10 million percent. The country's currency has become nearly worthless and citizens lack basic necessities like food, water or medicine.
Monday, Russia withdrew key defense advisers from Venezuela, which could point to wavering support for the current leadership. Russian state defense contractor Rostec, which has been advising the Venezuelan government on key arms contracts and training a significant amount of their troops, has cut its staff in the country almost completely.
Former Trump and Bush 43 State Official Christian Whiton told FOX Business’ Trish Regan that these developments are significant.
“[Rostec] had as many as 1,000 people in country training Venezuelan troops, training their paramilitary, helping to equip the military, and frankly, racking up big invoices that Venezuela owed but didn't pay,” Whiton said on Monday. “They have decided to pack it up and trim it down to fewer than 100 people which says to me that Russia is tired of having its bills not paid and thinks its bills will never be paid by Maduro.”
In January, America and over 50 other countries recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the new president of Venezuela. This despite Maduro being sworn-in for a brand new six-year term, a term he won under disputed circumstances. The U.S. said that Maduro must relinquish his seat and that Venezuela needs to hold free Democratic elections.
Later in May, talks to end the political crisis between the Venezuelan government and opposition broke down in Oslo, Norway without an agreement. The talks were the first between Maduro's government and the opposition since its leader Guaido declared himself the interim president.
Whiton said that you can't put a timetable on such political movements and continued U.S. pressure is what will lead to regime change in Venezuela.
“Sometimes freedom movements move fast, sometimes they move slower but U.S. pressure here has really brought this to bear."