John Bolton Was Ordered to Kill Me, Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro Claims

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has claimed the U.S. is scheming to kill him and depose his populist left-wing government, accusing national security adviser John Bolton of being the plot's point man.

Speaking to journalists at the presidential palace in the capital Caracas, the 56-year-old Maduro claimed the U.S. intends to send American troops into Venezuela as part of its plan to install a more amenable government, the BBC reported.

Related: Cold War 2018? Russia defends sending nuclear-capable planes to Venezuela after U.S. attack on Twitter

Maduro, who survived an assassination attempt using explosive drones in August, provided no evidence for his assertion.

"John Bolton has been assigned with the job organizing my assassination, deploying foreign troops and imposing a transitional government in Venezuela," Maduro declared. He warned that Venezuelans were loyal to their leaders and said they are prepared to fight back with the help of "friendly countries."

Maduro has previously accused the U.S. of plotting against him. He claimed the August attack—which was reportedly launched by disgruntled military officers—was a joint operation by U.S., Colombia and domestic opponents, though he offered no conclusive evidence to back that up.

Relations between Venezuela and the U.S.—rarely positive since socialist Hugo Chavez came to power, in 1999—have deteriorated further since President Donald Trump came into the Oval Office.

The president's tactless foreign policy has been extended to Venezuela, and Trump has reportedly discussed invading the country to topple Maduro. Despite being pressed on the issue, Trump has refused to rule out military action against the beleaguered nation.

Trump's administration has imposed fresh economic sanctions on Venezuela and several of its leaders, exacerbating the economic crisis wracking the oil-rich nation. In response, Maduro has moved closer to China and Russia.

Earlier this week, the U.S. protested the arrival of two Russian nuclear-capable bombers and several other aircraft in Caracas. Russia and Venezuela said the visit was part of the effort to boost bilateral ties, though Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the deployment as "two corrupt governments squandering public funds, and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer."

Venezuela's Defense Minister, Vladimir Padrino, dismissed American complaints and said the aircraft and up to 100 troops aboard were taking part in joint air force exercises. "This we are going to do with our friends, because we have friends in the world who defend respectful, balanced relations," he declared.

For its part, the Kremlin branded the U.S. protest "completely inappropriate." Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov also suggested that Pompeo's complaint that funds were being wasted on military exercises was strange coming from a country "half of whose military budget would be enough to feed the whole of Africa."

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Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a press conference at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, on December 12. Maduro has claimed the U.S. is scheming to kill him and depose his populist left-wing government. FEDERICO PARRA/AFP/Getty Images
John Bolton Was Ordered to Kill Me, Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro Claims | World