The Russian government warned the United States against taking any military action in Venezuela Wednesday.
“We warn ‘hotheads’ in Washington against such temptations,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters in a press conference while in India.
Ryabkov expressed his concern about Washington’s attempts “to consolidate an anti-Chavez front among Latin American states,” in a reference to the recent Lima Group declaration against elected President Nicolas Maduro.
Since August 2017 United States President Donald Trump has been outrightly saying that a U.S. military intervention against Venezuela was a distinct possibility.
“We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary,” the U.S. head of state remarked in 2017.
Trump’s comments softened, but only slightly. A year later, during a United Nations meeting in New York in September, he said that Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro is leading “a regime that, frankly, could be toppled very quickly by the military if the military decides to do that.”
Last week Mexico and members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), which includes Nicaragua, Bolivia, Cuba, and several Caribbean nations, came out against the Lima Group’s demand that Maduro not be sworn in as president on Jan. 10 and calls for new presidnetial elections. Maduro was reelected with 67 percent of the vote last May.
“Even Latin American governments with more critical positions towards Caracas exclude a military intervention in Venezuela,” Ryabkov told journalists in India.
Under President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) the government of Mexico refused to sign the Lima Group joint declaration, preferring instead to maintain good diplomatic relations with the Venezuelan government and uphold the non-intervention principle.
“Mexico firmly promotes dialogue with all involved parties to find peace and reconciliation. We reiterate our rejection of any initiative that includes measures that obstruct a dialogue to face the crisis in Venezuela,” read an official statement by the government on Jan. 4.
ALBA nations said the Lima Group was “threatening the sovereignty of the Venezuelan state” by demanding that Maduro step aside as leader.
The Russian diplomat stressed that “an attempt to use military force would be a catastrophic development.”
Maduro has consistently denounced Trump’s long-held interventionist tactics, including the economic war against Venezuela. The U.S. administration has placed several rounds of economic sanctions on the country since August 2017. On Tuesday, two dozen entities, including privately-owned Globovision Tele in Florida, were blocked from holding financial transactions with Venezuela.
Anthony Cordesman from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington says that Trump is reinstating a long-held U.S. policy of meddling in Latin America.
There’s “concern over a rebirth of United States interference in Latin America,” Cordesman told Bloomberg in September.
Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Canada and Saint Lucia comprise the informal Lima Group.