Russia accuses U.S. of planning to arm the opposition in Venezuela

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday accused the United States and its NATO allies of discussing how to arm the opposition in Venezuela and alleged Washington was deploying special forces and equipment near the South American nation.

Moscow said it had information to back its assertion but did not reveal it or say what it was.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said a U.S. humanitarian aid convoy for Venezuela could provoke clashes and create a pretext for removing President Nicolas Maduro, a staunch Russian ally, by force.

A senior U.S. administration official called the assertion a “senseless accusation” distributed by Russia as “propaganda.”

“There’s no truth to that,” the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Washington; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Sonya Hepinstall