The Venezuelan Defence Ministry said on Sunday that Col. Jose Luis Silva, a military attache at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, has committed treason by recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as country’s interim president.

“To surrender to international interests is an act of treason and cowardice towards the homeland inherited from our liberator Simon Bolivar, so we reject the statements of Col. Jose Luis Silva, who had served as military attache to the United States,” the ministry wrote on Twitter.

On Saturday, the Venezuelan attache told the US Spanish-language daily newspaper El Nuevo Herald that he did not recognize Nicolas Maduro as the Venezuelan president. Silva also called on the global community to recognize Guaido, who declared himself the country's interim president on Wednesday, as the "true president of Venezuela."

The situation in Venezuela, which has been hit by mass protests since the beginning of the week, escalated on Tuesday when the opposition-controlled National Assembly declared that Maduro had usurped power. Guaido, the National Assembly speaker, has proclaimed himself interim president. 

The United States along with some other states recognized Guaido as the interim president, after which Maduro accused the United States of organizing a coup in Venezuela. Maduro also decided to cut off diplomatic relations with the United States and asked US diplomats to leave the country within 72 hours.

Russia has stressed that it only recognizes Maduro as the legitimately elected Venezuelan president, warning against any interference or intervention.