By Peter Spinella (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – Russia condemned US support for Venezuela’s political opposition leader on Friday as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was to meet Russia’s top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov.
US regime-change policies have resulted in “chaos in entire regions, warfare and the collapse of states,” Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said in comments carried by Russian state news agency TASS.
Russia and neighboring ally China have been Venezuela’s two strongest backers, propping up the South American country’s crisis-laden economy with billions of dollars in loans and other assistance.
Restoring peace in Venezuela should be accomplished through improving the current government institutions, Patrushev was quoted as saying.
Lavrov’s visit to the South American country was intended to strengthen ties in a variety of areas, from agriculture and medicine, to energy and defense, his spokeswoman said ahead of the trip.
Lavrov was to appear in a show of support for Maduro two days after US President Donald Trump received Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido at the White House in a visit format typically reserved for heads of state.
Trump underscored the US commitment to ending the “corrupt and violent dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro,” the White House said in a statement. Guaido had earlier appeared in the US Congress during Trump’s State of the Union speech.
“Maduro’s grip on tyranny will be smashed and broken,” Trump said in the speech. Acknowledging Guaido in attendance, Trump said, “please take this message back to your homeland.”
Shortages of food and medicine have incited protests in Venezuela in recent years, as the country’s oil-dependent economy suffers from weak prices for the commodity amid a global supply glut.
In a reference to Venezuela’s unrest, Lavrov’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova emphasized that Russia supports “prospects for finding political solutions to internal disagreements … without destructive, let alone military, external interference.”
Russian defense specialists conducted at least two publicized visits to Venezuela last year as the South American state teetered towards collapse.
Maduro visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in September, with the leaders exchanging expressions of support. Putin reaffirmed Russia’s view of Maduro as Venezuela’s “legitimate authority” and noted close military ties.