Comment by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova regarding US policy towards Venezuela
The arrival of Russian experts in military-technical cooperation to Venezuela has caused a nervous reaction in Washington. US officials have gone as far as to say that the United States would regard the appearance of “actors external to the Western Hemisphere” in Venezuela as “provocative” and as “a direct threat to international peace and security in the region.”
First of all, we would like Washington politicians to look at a map. Part of Russia’s territory – the Chukotka Peninsula – is located in the Western Hemisphere. In other words, the American continent is a close neighbour of Russia.
Russia has clearly outlined the mission of its professionals in Caracas. They are not “military assets.” Consequently, the allegations concerning the Russian intent to “establish or expand military operations” in Venezuela are completely groundless.
It appears that Washington is judging others by itself when ascribing to Moscow its own plans with regard to Venezuela. Washington has again stated arrogantly that “all options” are open to make Moscow withdraw its forces. We would like to ask in this context what the numerous US military instructors are doing in neighbouring Colombia and why the White House is urging another neighbour of Venezuela, Brazil, to join NATO, which is contrary to the charter and the very name of the North Atlantic alliance?
In early March, Washington clearly indicated that it was still committed to the colonial Monroe Doctrine, which assigned the role of America’s backyard to Latin America 200 years ago, thereby denying it the right to sovereignty. But Venezuela, which honours the heritage of Simon Bolivar, the famous fighter against the colonisers, has again refused to bow to external dictate and continued to independently decide how it will live and who its friends are. This probably hurts the Washington strategists, but they do not have a time machine to plunge us back into the 19th century.
We fully agree with the US officials who say that Russia does not have “a free hand” in Venezuela. This is undeniably so, because only the legitimate authorities of Venezuela led by President Nicolas Maduro have a free hand in their own country. Any actions there by any external forces, including the United States, are restricted by the norms of international law sealed in the UN Charter, including the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states.
At the same time, any attempts to intimidate Russia with sanctions for its legitimate cooperation with Venezuela look absurd. Washington has adopted so many sanctions against Russia for most different reasons that Moscow has stopped counting and no longer takes any notice of them.
Of course, we understand the reason why Washington is so nervous. The plans for a rapid change of regime in Caracas have failed. By its self-assurance, Washington has let down those in Latin America and Western Europe who unwisely hastened to recognise an impostor, whom the people had not elected, as the head of Venezuela. By taking this step, they have deprived themselves of any room for diplomatic manoeuvre.
For our part, we recommend Washington to stop threatening Venezuela, strangling its economy, and pushing the country towards a civil war in flagrant violation of international law. We urge all political forces in Venezuela that put their country’s interests above their own ambitions to enter into a dialogue. We are ready to do everything within our power to promote it.