Venezuela’s Maduro was preparing to flee to Cuba but was stopped by Russia, Pompeo says

Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro was prepared to leave the country Tuesday and seek asylum in Cuba but was stopped by Russia, U.S. officials said.

“We’ve watched throughout the day, it’s been a long time since anyone’s seen Maduro,” Pompeo told CNN. “He had an airplane on the tarmac, he was ready to leave this morning as we understand it and the Russians indicated he should stay.”

Pompeo said Maduro had been planning to travel to Havana.

Asked if Maduro would have been allowed to safely depart for Cuba, Pompeo dodged the question.

“Mr. Maduro understands what will happen if he gets on that airplane. … He knows our expectations,” he said.

Maduro hasn’t made a public appearance since his rival, interim President Juan Guaidó, called on Venezuelans early Tuesday to take to the streets and oust the 57-year-old leader.

Venezuela and Cuba have been staunch allies, and the U.S. has accused the communist island of propping up Maduro.