Russia Defends Decision To Send Troops To Help Support Nicolás Maduro

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Russia Defends Decision To Send Troops To Help Support Nicolás Maduro
It's the country's first public comment regarding reports of troop deployment over the weekend to Venezuela.
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Russia is defending its decision to send military personnel to help support Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. 

It's the country's first public comment regarding reports of troop deployment over the weekend to Venezuela. 

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson told media Tuesday the troops' stay in Venezuela is part of an almost 20-year-old bilateral agreement on military technical cooperation.

The spokesperson didn't say how many troops went to Venezuela. Sources told CBS News an estimated 100 people were on the Russian planes that landed there.

This is all part of an ongoing political crisis in the country. In January, opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president. The U.S. and dozens of other countries backed him, overstepping Maduro, who was sworn in for his second term earlier this year. 

Many countries refused to recognize Maduro's re-election to begin with, alleging the vote was rigged and criticizing Venezuela's election process. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called his Russian counterpart on Monday to discuss the situation. According to a State Department statement, Pompeo warned that "the United States and regional countries will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela."

Additional reporting from Reuters.