The U.S. ordered non-emergency personnel and their families out of Venezuela on Thursday, ABC News reports. Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro had ordered all U.S. diplomats out of the country this week after President Donald Trump recognized opposition leader and president of the National Assembly Juan Guaidó as interim president of the country. But the Trump administration had initially refused the order. “The regime of former president Nicolás Maduro is illegitimate,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday. “We therefore consider all of its declarations and actions illegitimate and invalid.” According to ABC News, the drawdown is now happening due to security concerns. Maduro reportedly still controls the Venezuelan military and security forces, and the Armed Forces reiterated their allegiance to him Thursday. The U.S. embassy reportedly has about 100 to 150 personnel, in addition to their families. It was not immediately clear how many staffers would be pulled out.
Shortly after the Trump administration endorsed Guaidó as the country's new leader, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday reached out to Maduro to offer his support against what he described as “destructive external interference.” In an apparent shot at Washington, Putin said the “externally engineered escalation” of Venezuela's “internal crisis” was “a gross violation of the fundamental norms of international law,” according to a statement on the Kremlin’s website.