Russian Foreign Ministry: US Warships Off the Coast of Venezuela Only Worsen the Situation on Venezuela

The current developments show that there is no alternative to the peaceful, civilised approaches to settling domestic differences by the Venezuelan citizens themselves. We welcome the willingness of the government and the opposition to establish contacts as a prelude to the start of a dialogue, in part, with international mediation. We support any initiatives that consider the interests of all sides to an equal extent. Only inclusive talks involving all the constructive political forces in Venezuela that favour a peaceful, diplomatic settlement of disagreements in line with the Constitution can lead to a sustainable settlement of the crisis.

Russia is open to discussions with all sides that are interested in the peaceful settlement of the domestic political situation in Venezuela. I would like to explain Russia’s position of principle once again. One of the key principles of Russian foreign policy is invariable respect for the sovereignty of other countries and non-interference in their internal affairs. Russia consistently deals with lawful governments that have received the mandate of trust from their people, and hence, enjoy legitimacy and full authority. This allows us to treat them as dialogue partners that are capable of pursuing their own independent line in the international arena, which we consider of value.

Statements about “Russia’s responsibility” for what is happening in Venezuela are absurd. They are simply untrue. It is the sanctions of the US and other Western states that have led to a noticeable degradation of the socio-economic situation in Venezuela this year. The ambassador of Venezuela spoke about this in detail at a meeting with the media in Moscow.

While all Latin American and Caribbean countries, and the overwhelming majority of states in other parts of the world, clearly oppose an armed invasion of Venezuela, the American military continues its overt provocations – on May 9, a US Coast Guard ship was located in Venezuelan territorial waters 20 km off the port of La Guaira. Such actions only escalate tensions and do not facilitate the building of trust.

In the process, the radical opposition initiated talks with the US Southern Command with a view to overthrowing the legitimate government. This is beyond common sense. We urge all responsible Venezuelan politicians to adhere to a strictly peaceful means of political struggle. We consider steps that provoke a civil war and attempts to topple the legitimate President by force unacceptable. This is the road to violence and bloodshed.

There are demands from outside the country that the Nicolas Maduro Government should stop what is called the political harassment of National Assembly deputies, which is beyond criticism. To begin with, this is yet another example of interference in internal affairs. The accomplices in the coup are being presented as “prisoners of conscience and victims of a dictatorship.” Participation in an armed rebellion is punishable by law in any civilised country. Why should an exception be made in the case of Venezuela and why should it abstain from investigating the crimes and punishing the criminals? Everyone must respect Venezuela’s statehood and its citizens.

A new and unprecedented excess in violation of international principles and norms took place last week (May 13). US police entered the territory of the Venezuelan diplomatic mission building in Washington D.C. This is a flagrant violation of articles 22 and 24 of the Vienna convention on the protection of diplomatic missions. Let me recall that in March the US police helped “the diplomats” of the self-proclaimed president seize the premises of the Consulate General in New York and the Military Attaché Office in Washington D.C. In this case it removed civil activists from the diplomatic mission building who were there with the consent of the Venezuelan government. This is yet another example of the blatant disregard for international law and double standards by US authorities.

In general, although we have become accustomed to blackmail, personal pressure and other illegal methods used by Washington on its opponents, it is still surprising with what ease the US political establishment applies them to its strategic partners, among others. After members of the Constitutional Court of Colombia refused to discuss amendments to the law on a special court for the transitional period with the US Ambassador in Bogota, the US Department of State cancelled the US visas of the judges involved. In effect, the high-ranking representatives of Colombia’s judiciary were put on the same level with the members of the Venezuelan Supreme Court that are under sanctions. What do you think of this mathematical equation?

For its part, Russia continues working with its Venezuelan partners on a constructive agenda that meets the interests of our two countries.

Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, May 23, 2019