Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The United States ordered all non-emergency diplomatic employees in Venezuela to leave the country and warned against travel amid unrest over its leadership.
The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory warning citizens to reconsider travel to Venezuela due to "crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens" after U.S. President Donald Trump and the White House recognized National Assembly President and opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president and denied the legitimacy of President Nicolas Maduro.
"Political rallies and demonstrations occur, often with little notice. Demonstrations typically elicit a strong police and security force response that includes the use of tear gas, pepper spray, water cannons, and rubber bullets against participants and occasionally devolve into looting and vandalism," the advisory stated.
The advisory came after Maduro closed Venezuela's embassy and all of its consulates in the United States, calling back its 75 diplomats and other consulate personnel to Venezuela by Saturday, CNN reported.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday night the United States will continue diplomatic relations with Venezuela, arguing Maduro does not have the legal authority to break diplomatic relations or to declare diplomats persona non grata.
On Wednesday Trump said the United States no longer recognizes Maduro as Venezuela's president. Instead, he said, Guaido is now considered the interim president of Venezuela.
Turkey, Russia and China defended Maduro on Thursday, in sharp contrast to the U.S. declaration.
"We are with you," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Maduro in a phone call. "Stay strong, we are by your side. As a country that believes in democracy ... wherever in the world there is a coup attempt, we stand against them all without distinction. Everyone has to respect the result of the ballot boxes."
The Trump administration argues Maduro's election victory last year wasn't legitimate because opponents boycotted the vote. Trump said Guaido will be considered interim leader until new elections are held.
"The United States will take appropriate actions to hold accountable anyone who endangers the safety and security of our mission and its personnel," Pompeo added in a statement.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told news channel A Haber Thursday it's "very strange" Guaido declared himself president and was recognized by other countries.
"This situation may lead to chaos," he said.
Turkey, which refines Venezuelan gold, isn't the only nation supporting Maduro. Russia also offered words of support and a warning for the United States.
"We warn against this," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. "We believe that this would be a catastrophic scenario that would shake the foundations of the development model we see in the Latin American region."
"We consider attempted usurpation of power in Venezuela as ... a breach of the foundations of international law," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "Maduro is the legitimate head of state."
Alexei Pushkov of the Russia Federation Council's information committee said Guaido's effort is "an attempted coup" backed by the United States.
"It's impossible to imagine that this was spontaneous," he said on state-run television. "That was a pre-planned action and it was certainly coordinated by the United States."
Russia deployed two bombers to Venezuela last month, prompting Pompeo to accuse the countries of "squandering public funds, and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer."
Chinese officials said other nations shouldn't interfere in Venezuelan affairs and Beijing supports the country's efforts to be independent and sovereign.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres encouraged diplomacy on both sides.
"What we hope is that dialogue can be possible, and that we avoid an escalation that would lead to the kind of conflict that would be a disaster for the people of Venezuela and for the region," he said.