Below is an update on the Venezuelan crisis and Russia-Venezuelan relations:
Russia MFA Spokesperson Zakharova: Pompeo Is Just Repeating An Old Template With Venezuela
In an interview conducted at UN headquarters in New York with the Russia 24 TV channel, Russian MFA Spokesperson Maria Zakharova heaped scorn on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's statement that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was about to leave Venezuela, but was persuaded by Russia to stay.
Zakharova: "… We held a special event in honor of May 3rd – World Press Freedom Day. We discussed how to combat fake news. The Deputy Secretary-General of the UN spoke there… Just a couple of hours after serious people, experienced experts, spoke and exchanged opinions about how to solve this problem, breaking news with a reference to US Secretary of State Pompeo appeared. It's a direct quote from social media. It was said that President Maduro was going to leave Venezuela, flee, fly, and so on.
"There were lots of calls. I learned about it when I was taking part in a live program of one of the TV channels… I got calls from the American press as well. Of course, I said that it looks like a continuation of the disinformation campaign that Washington is carrying out with respect to Venezuela. It looks like a part of the plan, you know, to demoralize the Venezuelan army as well.
"We remember that during one month or two, US representatives directly addressed via social media, the internet, made relevant statements to the servicemen of the Venezuelan army and called upon them to desert, leave their posts, and promised to pay for that. There was another information attack of such level to show the Venezuelan people that they should change their preferences, give up their positions, and come to the side of good, as our American partners are constantly try to convince us.
"It was so unbelievable to see an official assessment by a high-ranking representative of the US administration containing such blatant fake news that honestly, I didn't believe it first. We checked again. Mr. Pompeo did say it. This quote really exists. But of course, this is a classic example of disinformation.
"You know, I'd like to say that I feel a déjà vu, because I remembered that in 2012 and it didn't happen once, by that way, there was an entire campaign of similar fake news, which was spread by our colleagues from Washington again, and the US State Department was behind it. But it was done with respect to Syria instead of Venezuela. Today, I did that job and found it. By the way, it is not that hard… In June of 2012, the German central channel Das Erste told about it. It wrote that Assad can and will seek asylum abroad, in Russia.
"I looked through other materials. It turns out that Al Jazeera wrote about it a lot. In particular, it said that Moscow already allegedly granted political asylum to Assad and his family. What’s most interesting, I even found quotes by Hillary Clinton in 2012. She said that Assad should leave and he can be granted asylum in Russia, for example. So the story fully repeats itself in this sense. And Mr. Pompeo did not invent anything new. He just took old templates…"
During the interview, the Russia 24 journalist noted that the US is undertaking steps perceived by them as "soft power", he then asked Zakharova what she thought about Pompeo's statement on a possible US intervention in Venezuela. Zakharova answered: "I'd like to remind you that Washington stated that the sole incentive for them to get involved in the Venezuelan issues is the well-being and improvement of the living standards of the Venezuelan people. But we see the life of the Venezuelan people is deteriorating thanks and due to the actions, by the United States as well.
"Therefore it isn't soft power at all… That's aggressive rhetoric, direct intimidation, blackmailing, and threats. And in recent months, it's direct calls to the Venezuelan people and the desire to spread panic, terror, a sense of colossal anxiety and betrayal. I reiterate it, in order to demoralize the Venezuelans…"
Chief of Russia's GRU Military Intelligence Service Kostyukov: Trump Set The Goal Of Displacing Left-Wing Governments In Venezuela, Nicaragua, And Cuba In A Short Time
Igor Kostyukov, Head of the Russian General Staff's Main Intelligence Department, spoke about the Venezuelan crisis at the VIII Moscow Conference on International Security, which was held on April 23-25, 2019. In his speech, Kostyukov strongly attacked the US, accusing it of fomenting a color revolution in Venezuela, with the goal of replicating it in Cuba and Nicaragua.
Below are excerpts from Kostyukov's speech:
'The US Administration Began To Aggressively Promote American Interests In The Region'
Kostyukov: "… Despite the fact that there are no direct military threats to the US security in Latin America, Washington has a substantial military presence there. The US Northern and Southern Commands deployed up to 20,000 servicemen. In the period of threat, they plan to engage up to 40,000 servicemen.
"In Latin America, the US joint-force military and tactics groups are deployed on permanent basis. They consist of 7, 500 servicemen. The Pentagon is making a plan to create a multi-national unit, based on the US Navy landing craft. The United States in insistently pushing the Latin America armed forces into multi-national operational and combat training organized by the Pentagon.
"After Donald Trump came to power, the US administration began to aggressively promote American interests in the region. They pursue goals such as total control over all economic and political processes, to ensure that Washington dominates in rapidly developing regional markets, and to gain unrestricted access to natural resources, to hinder interaction within the BRICS framework, as well as bilateral relations between Russia and the states in the Western hemisphere, force the main competitors out, which aren't just Russia and China, but the EU as well.
"By interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign states in the region, the United States increases the number of its friends by bringing the political and economic elites loyal to Washington to power. As of now, the White House has de facto turned the OAS into a tool to suppress dissidence in the member countries and promote its own regional interests. The example of the Lima group shows an extremely dangerous trend, when controlled, informal groups are created for the White House's purposes. Their activities aren't governed by any rules or regulations. This makes such groups suitable for the adoption and the implementation of decisions, which are questionable in terms of international law.
"Being governed by the updated Monroe doctrine, Washington openly links economic, military, technical, humanitarian, and other assistance to Latin American states to their positions on urgent political issues. Thus it promotes its interests in the region. It also puts pressure on the countries that it dislikes. One of the clear examples was the suspension of Venezuela's membership in the Southern Common Market in 2017. Formally, it was done on the demand of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Now, according to the US National Security Strategy, which sets forth the increasing role of force in its foreign policy, the White House is starting to take radical measures to change the regimes it dislikes.
"On February 18th, President Donald Trump set the goal of displacing left-wing governments in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba in a short time. Washington thinks that it will allow to ultimately turning Latin America into a region fully controlled by the US. They are already taking specific measures with respect to Venezuela to destabilize the domestic political situation in the country, through consolidating the opposition, holding large-scale protests with their help and, most importantly, unleashing hybrid aggression against the republic.
"It's the formation of parallel public administration bodes controlled by the US, including the de facto appointment by Washington and official recognition by its allies of the Chairman of the Venezuelan parliament Juan Guaido as the country's acting president. It's the accreditation of alternative ambassadors from the Bolivian Republic in foreign states and its representatives to international organizations. It's the seizure of diplomatic property and other state property abroad, attachment of accounts, gold and currency reserves, the imposition of sanctions, as well as large-scale economic and political pressure.
"At the same time, the Americans chose Guaido's candidacy but not much more authoritative representatives of the Venezuelan opposition. It shows that he plays a one-time role to expedite the process of overthrowing the legitimate authority as much as possible.
The United States Wants To Carry Our a Color Revolution in Venezuela Through The OAS, The Informal Lima Group, The European Union, And International Financial Institutions
"The United States engages the OAS, the informal Lima Group, the European Union, and authoritative international financial institutions in order to carry out a color revolution in Venezuela. On direct instructions by the US, they implement plans to stop activities by the regional bodies, which Washington dislikes. It's the Union of South American Nations, first and foremost. And they've created a new integration body, named the Forum for the Progress of South America. It's supposed to promote the United States' interested in the region. Under pressure by the White House, the Inter-American Development Bank, where the US is the largest shareholder, demonstratively refused to hold a regular meeting in China this March, because Beijing refused to issue a visa to Juan Guaido, appointed by the opposition.
"At Washington's behest, the bank's management intends to extend credit of 50 billion dollars, which is to replace Maduro, in order to restore the country's economy to the new, pro-Western Venezuelan government. It's considered to encourage Caracas' foreign partners to refuse to cooperate with the current authorities. They are economically strangling Venezuela.
"The new sectoral sanctions imposed by Washington led to their oil deports, which are the main source of budget revenue, being cut in half. The republic receives less than a billion on a monthly basis. Lawsuits against the Petroleum of Venezuela Corporation, the main donor of the country's economy, for 2.4 billion dollars, were files in American and Canadian courts. Foreign assets of the republic's strategically important companies were placed under the opposition's control. Britain's banks refuse to return the 80 tons of Venezuelan gold.
"In February, on the US' initiative, there was an attempt at a humanitarian invasion into the republic from the territory of Brazil and Colombia in order to provoke large-scale disobedience demonstrations and force the army and the police to use arms to restore order. However, the American blitzkrieg with respect to Venezuela failed. Washington underestimated the strength of the republic's legitimate government, its support by the population, and the readiness of the Venezuelan security agencies to defend the constitutional order. It's expectation of a blood-shedding clash between the army and the people wasn't met either.
Washington, Which Is Afraid To Use Its Own Armed Forces, Wants To Carry Out An Invasion Through Its Allies Such As Colombia
"At the same time, the US sabotaged activities against the Bolivarian Republic are still going on. They make different plans on how to overthrow the Chavez's government, from creating conditions for protest sentiments to increase, which would further transform into social fallout, to using force against Caracas.
"At the same time, Washington, which is afraid to use its own armed forces, wants to carry out an invasion through its allies such as Colombia, first and foremost. In addition to it, Venezuelan deserters, members of criminal gangs, from Central American states, Colombian insurgents, and insurgents groups are being recruited into illegal, armed groups. They are already engaged in sabotage against the Bolivarian Republic's infrastructure facilities.
"At the same time, the Americans don't care about the fact that ordinary civilians mostly suffer because of their actions. The United States claims that it defends their interests. In fact, Washington is ready to call the Venezuelan government a sponsor of international terrorism and use force and impose sanctions against Caracas under that pretext. The technique of color revolutions, which they use in Venezuela, could be used in Nicaragua and Cuba soon.
"The Nicaraguan opposition, sponsored by the US, de facto sabotages a nascent domestic dialogue by making demands which are known to be unacceptable for the government. To overthrow the socialist regime in Cuba, Trump's administration focused on economic measures. In particular, the Helms-Burton Act was re-enacted in the US in March. It enables Americans to seek compensation for the property lost in the republic, which could affect over 200 Cuban enterprises. A substantial decrease in the supplies of Venezuelan oil as a result of US sanctions was a blow to Cuba.
"To increase Washington's influence in the region, the US State Department spends up to 1.5 billion dollars per year. This is only the official data, which doesn't include special and extra-budgetary programs. Thus, the US administration views Latin America as a zone of strategically important national interests. It also makes substantial efforts to gain full control over the region. At the same time, Washington acts without regard for international law and possible negative consequences, not only for the region but its closest partners as well.
"At the same time, the foreign policy focused on America and conducted by the US in the Western hemisphere is the main threat to security in Latin America. We can already see the results of such destabilizing activities by Washington in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya.
"Thank you for your attention."