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May 6, 2019 No.
8048

Russia-Venezuelan Relations – An Update – Part I

Below is an update on Russia-Venezuela relations:


Guaido shaking hands with a soldier at the Generalisimo Francisco de Miranda Airbase "La Carlota". (Source: Cibercuba.com)

Timeline:

  • May 6, Lavrov to meet with Pompeo in Finland, where he will take part in the ministerial session of the Arctic Council.

  • May 5, Meeting between Russian FM Lavrov and Venezuelan FM Arreaza.

  • May 3, Putin-Trump telephone conversation on Venezuela

  • May 2, Lavrov rejects US' statement about Russia’s role in situation in Venezuela

  • May 1, Lavrov-Pompeo telephone conversation on Venezuela.

  • May 1, Pompeo reiterated that US military action in Venezuela is possible.

  • May 1, Demonstrators critical of the Venezuelan government clash with pro-Maduro security forces.

  • April 30, Putin holds a briefing meeting with permanent members of the Security Council. The discussion also focused on the developments in Venezuela.

  • April 30, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo states that Maduro attempted to flee to Cuba but Russia stopped him.

  • April 30, Guaido launches the final phase of Operation Freedom.

Meeting Between Russian FM Lavrov And Venezuelan FM Arreaza – Lavrov: Attempts To Force A Regime Change In Caracas Have Nothing To Do With A Democratic Process


(Source: Mid.ru)

On May 5, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with the Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza, in Moscow. The talks with Arreaza have been organized ahead of Lavrov's meeting with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo in Finland, on the sidelines of the ministerial session of the Arctic Council on May 6.[1]

During the meeting, the two top diplomats discussed the political developments in Venezuela The also talked about the implementation of the practical agreements that were reached during the 14th session of the Russian-Venezuelan High-Level Intergovernmental Commission held on April 4 and 5, 2019 in Moscow. These agreements covered joint projects in energy, industry, agriculture, medicine, pharmaceuticals, new technology and militate-technical cooperation.[2]

During the talks, Lavrov said:[3]

"… Our regular contacts confirm the strength of the brotherly bonds existing between our peoples and our leaders’ commitment to enhance our strategic partnership.

"You know Russia’s principled, consistent and firm support of the Venezuelan government, which is headed by Nicolas Maduro. We are currently witnessing an unprecedented campaign led by the US to overthrow the legitimate authorities in Venezuela. We condemn it as it grossly violates all the principles of international law enshrined in the UN Charter. Apparently, it concerns not only Venezuela but also Washington’s pattern for the political reshuffling of Latin America in line with the notorious Monroe doctrine, which reflects a complete lack of respect for the peoples of Latin America and Caribbean countries.

"We never interfere with internal affairs of other countries and urge others to follow suit. Only Venezuelans have the right to determine the future of their state, which requires an inclusive dialogue of all political forces of the country.

"Attempts to force a regime change in Caracas have nothing to do with a democratic process and they only undermine prospects for a political settlement of the crisis. Pursuing this line is fraught with drastic consequences. We call on both Americans and everyone who supports them to give up irresponsible schemes and act exclusively within the framework of international law, as President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin suggested during his telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump on May 3.

"We expect to hear your assessments of the developments, information about further steps your government plans to take in order to overcome the crisis and establish national dialogue. We are ready to discuss our cooperation at the UN, other multilateral platforms, and the bilateral agenda."

Putin-Trump Telephone Conversation – Putin: Only The Venezuelans Have The Right To Determine The Future Of Their Country

On May 3, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump, at the initiative of the American side.

The Kremlin reported:[4]

"The current state and prospects of bilateral relations were discussed with a focus on economic cooperation. The two presidents spoke in favor of developing mutually beneficial trade and investment relations. They affirmed their shared commitment to step up dialogue in various areas, including on issues of strategic stability…

"While exchanging views on the situation around Venezuela, the President of Russia underscored that only the Venezuelans themselves have the right to determine the future of their country, whereas outside interference in the country’s internal affairs and attempts to change the government in Caracas by force undermine prospects for a political settlement of the crisis…"

Lavrov : I Warned The US Against Returning To The Monroe Doctrine

On May 2, following talks with President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov answered media questions:[5]

Question: "On April 30, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a statement claiming that President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro allegedly attempted to flee to Cuba but Russia stopped him. Nicolas Maduro refuted this. Later, US National Security Advisor John Bolton said that Venezuelan Minister of Defence Vladimir Padrino Lopez, President of the Venezuelan Supreme Tribunal of Justice Maikel Moreno, and presidential guard commander Ivan Rafael Hernandez Dala allegedly said they were prepared to support Juan Guaido. Yesterday, you had a telephone conversation with Mike Pompeo. Did you discuss these statements? What was the answer from the US?"

Sergey Lavrov: "If we were to list everything that the US administration's official representatives say on Venezuela, the questions could be endless, and the answers to them would normally be, diplomatically speaking, that this is not true.

"Yesterday we had a telephone conversation. Mr Pompeo made a call and urged us to stop supporting Nicolas Maduro, urged us and Cuba to not interfere in Venezuela's internal affairs. This all sounded rather surreal. I responded to him that it is our principled stance that we never interfere in others' affairs and we urge others to do likewise. I warned the US against returning (as Washington has already declared) to the Monroe Doctrine.

"This can go too far. I believe that such statements and boldly declared intentions to go back to a doctrine that originated two hundred years ago basically reflect disrespect not only for the Venezuelan people but Latin America peoples in general.

"As far as I can tell, Mr Pompeo made the call so that he could publicly state later that he urged us not to interfere. And he did so. I think we can leave it at that for now - although we agreed to stay in contact, including on Venezuela. But I simply do not see how we can reconcile our stance based on the UN Charter and principles and norms of international law and the stance of the United States, which appoints an acting president of another country from Washington, demands the capitulation of the legitimate government, and threatens to use force along with 'suffocating' sanctions to effect regime change. Our positions are incompatible, but we are ready to talk."

Question: "How might Russia further respond to such a policy from Washington as regards interference in internal affairs, particularly in Venezuela's affairs?"

Sergey Lavrov: "Our position will be very simple. We will mobilize a group of states, which respect the UN Charter as we do, to counteract such intentions. Such a group is being formed in the UN, and I hope it will receive substantial support from the organization as a whole. This is about a very simple thing which is hard to distort - protecting the fundamental norms and principles of international law as enshrined in the UN Charter."

Lavrov-Pompeo Telephone Conversation – Lavrov: Destructive External Influence Has No Place In The Democratic Process


(Source: Mid.ru)

On May 1, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo had a telephone conversation, at the initiative of the US side.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported:[6]

"The conversation was focused on developments in Venezuela, where the opposition recently attempted to seize power with overt assistance from the United States. Russia’s position that Washington's interference in the sovereign state's internal affairs and threats directed against its leadership constitute a blatant violation of the international law was underscored. It was noted that further aggressive steps may lead to the gravest of consequences. Only the Venezuelan people who have the right to choose their destiny, which requires dialogue between all the country's political forces, as its Government has long called for. Destructive external influence, particularly when force is involved, has no place in the democratic process…"

Russian MFA On 'Operation Freedom': The Radical Opposition In Venezuela Has Again Resorted To Violent Methods Of Confrontation

On April 30, Juan Guaido declared the "final phase of Operation Freedom" in Venezuela, and urged the Venezuelan military to take to the streets in order to "end the usurpation" in the country.

In his message, recorded at the Generalisimo Francisco de Miranda Airbase "La Carlota" in Caracas, Guaido said that a group of soldiers were supporting the uprising against Maduro.

On the same day, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a statement claiming that President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro allegedly attempted to flee to Cuba but Russia stopped him.[7]

The Russian MFA commented on Guaido's declarations:[8]

"The radical opposition in Venezuela has again resorted to violent methods of confrontation. Instead of seeking to settle political disputes peacefully, it has adopted a course of escalating the conflict, provoking violations of public order and staging clashes with the involvement of the armed forces.

"We call on all sides to renounce the use of violence. It is important to avoid disorder and bloodshed. The problems facing Venezuela should be resolved via a responsible negotiation process without preconditions. Any actions should be taken exclusively within the confines of the law, in strict conformity with the Constitution and without destructive interference from outside the country.

"We reaffirm our position of principle in favor of the citizens of Venezuela settling internal disputes by political, civilized means. We appeal to all members of the international community, including Venezuela’s immediate neighbors, to reaffirm their commitment to the UN Charter and the norms and principles of international law, and to support Venezuela’s return to the path of stable and steady development via dialogue between all responsible political forces of that country.

"We also consider it extremely important that the events in Venezuela be covered objectively. The media should not amplify fake news and turn into an obedient instrument of the partisan political forces seeking to escalate tensions in Venezuela."

Lavrov: Juan Guaido Is A Replica Of Petro Poroshenko


(Source: Mid.ru)

On April 21, during an interview on the Zvezda TV channel with journalist Olga Belova, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov was asked about the Venezuelan crisis.[9]

Olga Belova: "… There is another place where Russian interests clash with those of its Western partners, which is Venezuela. Will Washington decide to stage a military intervention there? What do you think of this? If yes, how far is Russia ready to go in this region? Are we prepared for a direct and tough stand-off in the region that would culminate in a peace enforcement operation against those who don’t want this, provided that all legal formalities are complied with?"

Sergey Lavrov: "I don’t want to bring up this scenario. I am convinced that Washington does not yet completely understand that its line regarding Venezuela has become deadlocked. They believed that the people of Venezuela would rebel against the incumbent government from the very outset, that they would be disappointed with the government’s inability to ensure the normal operation of the socioeconomic sector.

"Our Western colleagues took care of this: The United States froze the Venezuelan oil company’s accounts, and the United Kingdom impounded the country’s gold reserves. They hoped to stifle Venezuela using economic methods. When the crisis was in its early stage, they also organized humanitarian relief aid deliveries and tried to cross the Venezuelan border. Obviously, that was a very cheap show. Yes, they said all the options were on the table, but they obviously expected a blitzkrieg. However, they admit that no blitzkrieg took place.

"Indeed, the country faces a very complicated economic situation which was complicated and continued to deteriorate even before all this began. We repeatedly advised the government of Venezuela, at its request, how to launch economic reforms. Quite possibly, someone did not like this, and they also decided to halt this process, so as to prevent the situation from working in favor of the Maduro government. They decided to further stifle Venezuela by economic and financial methods. When the blitzkrieg petered out, when it became clear that the people of Venezuela had their own pride and a feeling of national dignity, when they became obviously insulted by a situation when, speaking from abroad, US Vice President Mike Pence noted that he was appointing Juan Guaido as Acting President, one should be very far from historical experience while hoping that the people of Venezuela would “swallow” this.

"Today, when the Americans continue to say that all options are on the table, I don’t doubt the fact that they are assessing the consequences of an audacious military undertaking. It is highly unlikely that anyone in Latin America will support them. To the best of my knowledge, they are counting on one or two countries. I have no doubts, and I know that the Latin Americans have a great feeling of personal dignity. This would pose a challenge to all of them, all the more so as a righteous rejection of such a dictate has been accumulating for several months already, especially when the Americans de-mothballed the Monroe Doctrine and said it was quite appropriate to use this doctrine in the current situation.

"On April 17, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the United States was bringing its own version of freedom to the region. And what version of freedom does the region prefer? Would you like to ask them how they perceive their own freedom?

"I hope very much that a line which stipulates talks and which is conducted by Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay and the Caribbean Community will prevail. President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro is ready for such talks, and he has repeatedly confirmed this in public. Juan Guaido emphatically and ostentatiously refuses, comprehending Washington’s support and counting on this support alone. It appears that he has copied the bad example of President of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko who also behaved in the same way with regard to the need for conducting a national dialogue that would involve all political forces, and he hoped that Washington would shield him whatever the situation."

Olga Belova: "Washington says it is bringing freedom to the region. But what is it that we are bringing to the region?"

Sergey Lavrov: "We want international law to be respected in the region as well as in the world at large. This means that states build their relations via dialogue and a balance of interests takes shape. This also means that we listen to each other and want to negotiate mutually beneficial security, economic and humanitarian projects as well as projects in any other spheres, where countries and peoples operate. Our relations with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) rest precisely on this basis. We are finalizing talks with the South American Common Market (MERCOSUR). There is an agreement with the Central American Integration System (CAIS) and a number of other sub-regional organizations.

"We have even-handed and good relations with practically all the Latin American countries. We don’t force anyone to do things we would like to get as unilateral advantages. The entire US policy towards Russia comes down to the US ambassador in any country visiting, with envious regularity, government agencies and demanding that they don’t receive Russian delegations, nor send delegations to Russia, nor trade with Russia, nor buy anything from Russia, particularly military products, and the like.

"You can’t conceal information in today’s world. We learn this the moment these 'visits' occur, the more so that the Americans are not particularly hiding the fact. They publicly say: Don’t communicate with Russia. It is Russia along with Iran and Cuba that are to blame for what is going on in Venezuela. They demand that not a single Russian soldier be found in Venezuela because the US wants it this way: no one located outside of the Western Hemisphere has the right to be there at all. Our explanation that the Russian military are performing contractual obligations servicing military equipment that was supplied on fully legitimate terms way back in the 2000s are simply disregarded. The fact that the US military and other NATO personnel – Britons and Canadians – have filled Ukraine is not mentioned. It looks like they proceed from logic suggested by the saying 'What is allowed to Jupiter, is not allowed to the bull.' This is rotten logic, very much so, and it will not help our US colleagues. I am quite hopeful that they will come to understand this…"

Russian MFA Spokesperson Zakharova: Washington Would Be Happy With Any Option To Destabilize Venezuela If The Final Goal Is Achieved – The Overthrow Of The Maduro Government


(Source: Mid.ru)

During a weekly briefing, Russian MFA Spokesperson Maria Zakharova commented:[10]

"Washington is trying to scare the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAC) with Russia. It’s hard to imagine a more absurd threat to our friends. In more than two hundred years of Russian-Latin American relations, our country has never taken any forceful action in that region, never made any threats of military action, humanitarian interventions or low-intensity force operations against any CELAC country. On the contrary, cooperation with the CELAC region is an inherently valued track of Russian diplomacy, which we are building on a basis free from ideology.

"Russia has consistently advocated a politically united and economically stable Latin America. We do not confront our partners with dilemmas like 'whoever is not with us is against us.' A number of CELAC countries have recognized the Venezuelan parliament speaker as the interim head of state, while others continue to cooperate with the legitimate Government of Venezuela. At the same time, all our partners in the region tell us that differences on this issue cannot and should not affect our bilateral relations. We fully support this constructive attitude.

"Meanwhile, the US continues playing up the likelihood of a force scenario in Venezuela, although all Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as the overwhelming majority of countries in other regions, have firmly and clearly opposed the armed invasion of Venezuela, in whatever humanitarian wrapper it is presented. In fact, the statements by members of the Donald Trump administration are destabilizing Venezuela. The threats of the US military are forcing the legitimate Government of Venezuela to spend large amounts on the country's defense. The US sanctions and the pirate-style seizure of gold reserves in the UK are causing the socio-economic degradation in Venezuela. There are internal reasons of course, and no one disregards them. We are all realistic and can assess the situation realistically. There are dry figures. Look at how many Venezuelan assets in various forms and formats have been taken away from the Venezuelan people.

"Obviously, Washington would be happy with any option to destabilize Venezuela if the final goal is achieved – the overthrow of the current Government. Instead of immediately ceasing to threaten the Venezuelans with war and returning the stolen money, the US is preparing new provocations. On May 1, the political opponents have scheduled the usual demonstrations. We can see how this formula is being activated again – the end justifies the means. The radical opposition is preparing new large-scale actions to provoke clashes between protesters from different camps. We have witnessed similar situations in other countries more than once – the use of firearms by unknown persons is instantly declared repressions by law enforcement agencies against civilians, and used as an excuse to unleash force to overthrow the legitimate authorities. We urge all sober-minded politicians in Venezuela to stick to peaceful methods of political campaigning – especially, on the day of international solidarity of workers. During this holiday of spring and peace, it is more appropriate to get busy with improvement in the country, not escalation of violence.

"Unfortunately, we can see how those who have bought the sweet promises, which turned out empty – again, made from Washington – how those who bought these promises are now facing a harsh reality. I remember two months ago, the so-called Friends of Venezuelan Democracy all as one hammered on about some kind of amnesty for military personnel who desert the Venezuelan armed forces and promised tidy sums. So there were military who broke their oath and declared support for the self-proclaimed president and left the country. Where are they now? They were left without a homeland, documents or work. Instead of the promised benefits or other sorts of blessings, they have been recruited into sabotage groups and trained to return to destabilize the situation. They have in fact become hostages; they are not deciding the future of Venezuela, but are used in someone else’s game to determine the future of their own people whom they have been separated from by deceit.

"Another way to survive is to participate in criminal activities for money or in drug trafficking. I think this should be a lesson to those who are promised too much and end up a hostage trying to play this roulette with Washington. Even more telling is the fate of former head of Venezuela's military intelligence Hugo Carvajal, the most influential general who supported the self-appointed president, recently arrested in Madrid at the request of the United States.

"At all international platforms, Russia strongly urges our American partners to act within the framework of international law, and to refrain from or abandon any irresponsible steps, the introduction of new sanctions and threats of the use of force."

 

[1] Tass.com, May 6, 2019.

[2] Mid.ru, May 4, 2019.

[3] Mid.ru, May 5, 2019.

[4] Kremlin.ru, May 3, 2019.

[5] Mid.ru, May 2, 2019.

[6] Mid.ru, May 1, 2019.

[7] Tass.com, April 30, 2019.

[8] Mid.ru, April 30, 2019.

[9] Mid.ru, April 21, 2019.

[10] Mid.ru, April, 25, 2019.