Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has condemned the United States for seeking “regime change” in Venezuela by imposing sanctions on the country’s state energy giant Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), supporting opposition leader Juan Guaido and attempting to create a pretext for military intervention there.
“We haven’t brought any proposals of any kind; we respect our partners. You began your question with the issue of whether Russia could agree to conditions for the removal of (Venezuelan President Nicolas) Maduro. We’re beyond that.
“The European Union has been forming and developing initiatives with the Lima Group, and we don’t consider these initiatives useful. We talk about the need for national dialogue without any pre-conditions. We share this initiative and posture with Mexico. Our Western partners also think dialogue is necessary but with the objective of addressing the criteria for regime change, and I think that is not mediation, but rather an imposition of foreign models. We hear calls from Washington that there are no options but presidential change,” Lavrov told reporters on a visit to Mexico on Thursday.
The Russian foreign minster added that Washington was “threatening that all options are on the table” and instigating “provocations” against the Maduro government.
“We see such attempts aimed at setting a pretext for a military intervention,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by Russia’s Tass news agency.
The US Department of the Treasury slapped sanctions on PDVSA last year in a bid to oust Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro, who has overseen an economic collapse in the South American country.
Earlier this year, the administration of US President Donald Trump imposed a new round of sanctions on Venezuela as part of attempts to pressure Maduro to resign.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on January 21 that the move was meant to support Juan Guaido, the US-backed opposition figure who claims to be the president.
“We don’t talk about particular sanctions but everyone can fully expect that the United States is not done. The work that we’ve done over these past months has been building to the place that we find ourselves today and I, I would fully expect there will be further action that the United States would take to continue to support President Guaido and the Venezuelan people,” claimed Pompeo as world leaders were preparing to meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The US top diplomat further repeated his claims against the government in Caracas, offering a grim picture of the situation in the region.
“He’s now added to his terror regime, working alongside terror organizations inside of his own country. He is now running an operation that looks more like a cartel than anything else that one could describe. This isn’t good for Venezuela, it’s not good for the countries that are around Venezuela,” said the former CIA chief.
Although Guaido has the backing of the US and a number of countries, efforts to remove Maduro have stalled since he retains control of most state functions, and support of the powerful armed forces as well as that of allies China, Russia and Cuba.