Russia concerned by US talk of possible military involvement in Venezuela


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gives his annual press conference in Moscow on January 16, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has expressed concerns over US talk of some kind of possible military involvement in Venezuela, slamming Washington for inciting the Latin American country’s opposition to hamper talks with the Caracas government.

“We have heard talk that allows for military involvement in Venezuela, talk that the United States will now recognize as the president of Venezuela not Nicolas Maduro but the representative of the parliament. All this is very alarming,” Lavrov said at his annual news conference in Moscow on Wednesday.

He noted that the US approach to the South American country showed that Washington’s efforts to undermine governments around the world it didn’t like were continuing.

Venezuela, which sits atop the world’s largest oil reserves, has been struggling with a worsening economic situation during the past years, which has caused civilian cross-border journeys into Colombia to purchase basic commodities and foodstuffs.

Maduro has accused the US of being behind Venezuela’s economic crisis, saying Washington is orchestrating attempts to topple him as part of a wider offensive against Latin American leaders defying the US hegemony.

In 2017, US President Donald Trump said he would not “rule out” a military option for Venezuela to solve the ongoing crisis in the country.

Washington also criticized Russian military flights launched to Venezuela in December, censures that the Kremlin has rejected.

Reports also said that Trump was considering recognizing the leader of Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the so-called legitimate president of Venezuela.

Guaido on Friday branded Maduro, 56, as an illegitimate “usurper,” saying he was prepared to take on the South American country’s presidency on an interim basis and call elections, only a day after socialist Maduro was sworn in for a second term.

Russia-US relations are currently at post-Cold War lows over Ukraine, the war in Syria, and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election. Russia is also opposed to the US and other NATO allies deploying their troops and weapons near its borders.

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