Russia is opposed to any efforts by the US to use ‘humanitarian aid’ as a pretext to intervene in Venezuela, Deputy FM Sergey Ryabkov told US special envoy Elliott Abrams, adding that Moscow will protect its interests there.
The diplomats met in Rome on Tuesday to discuss the increasing tensions between Washington and Moscow over the Donald Trump administration’s continued push for regime change in Venezuela.
“We strongly urged the US side… against any temptation to resort to military power. It includes our warning against, so to speak, hardcore massive military intervention, which can’t be excluded given the type of behavior we’ve seen on the US side in recent years,” Ryabkov told RT, where he appeared live after the talks.
The same goes for “low intensity conflicts – the penetration into the sovereign territory of Venezuela from abroad by elements that could be described as paramilitaries to stage provocations and in other ways interfere in the affairs of this state,” he added.
Russia’s representative told Abrams that Moscow’s interests in Venezuela must be protected and said he assumes that Washington has heard that demand. The deputy FM also pointed out that Moscow is increasingly worried about Washington’s sanctions against Caracas.
“How can one blame the [Venezuelan] government for mismanagement, while at the same time depriving this very government of huge assets?” he said, adding that “the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela shouldn’t be abused for political reasons,” and that sanctions must be lifted to improve the life of the people.
The US has been tightening and increasing sanctions on Caracas in recent months in an effort to squeeze President Nicolas Maduro’s government out of power. Washington has called for regime change in favor of right-wing opposition leader Juan Guaido, who Trump threw his support behind in January.
Ryabkov said that during the talks, the US and Russian sides didn’t manage to find consensus on the Venezuela crisis, but acknowledged that he has a better understanding of the US side after the talks which, he said, were “an example on how things can be done professionally.”
“The differences are huge. They’re fundamental in some aspects, including on the aspect of Russia not recognizing Juan Guaido as interim president. Likewise, the US wasn’t able to understand why Russia insists that the legitimate president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, should be respected as such.”
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has reaffirmed that it is considering “all options” for Venezuela. Trump has said multiple times in recent months that he is not prepared to rule out US military action in the country.
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