Russia warns US not to threaten Venezuela

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Moscow, March 31 (IANS) The Russian Foreign Ministry has warned the US against further interfering in Venezuela’s domestic affairs and stirring up speculations about Russia conducting military operations in the South American country.

“We recommend that the United States stop threatening Venezuela, strangling its economy and pushing it towards civil war, which is in open violation of international law,” the ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency on Saturday.

She reiterated that Russia is not intentionally building up its military presence in Venezuela, despite such accusations by the West including Washington.

Two Russian air force planes landed in Venezuela on March 23, carrying nearly 100 troops and 35 tons of materials, according to media reports.

Moscow has repeatedly said that the existence of Russian troops in Venezuela is in line with the bilateral agreement on military-technical cooperation.

“The speculations about the conduct of certain ‘military operations’ by Russia in Venezuela are absolutely groundless,” Zakharova said.

Meanwhile, the diplomat said that US attempts to scare Russia with sanctions for its legitimate cooperation with Venezuela look ridiculous.

She ascribed America’s “nervousness” about Russian presence in Venezuela to Washington’s failure to impeach incumbent President Nicolas Maduro.

Nevertheless, Russia will make efforts to facilitate a dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition, Zakharova added.

“We call on all Venezuelan political forces, which place the interests of their homeland above their own ambitions, to engage in dialogue. We are ready to promote it in every possible way,” she said.

Venezuela has been plunged into a political crisis since late January when the opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself the country’s interim president and was recognized by the US and some other countries.

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