In sharp comments that left no question of Moscow's strong support for its ally, Russia's foreign ministry slammed U.S. unilateral sanctions against Venezuela as a move reflecting Washington's cynical desire to boost tensions and destabilize the country, possibly laying the basis for military action.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova explained how the situation in Venezuela had begun to show signs of improvement as street protests decreased and the schedule for local and presidential elections was outlined by the Bolivarian government, despite the “radical leadership” of the opposition-held National Assembly rejecting offers of dialogue by President Nicolas Maduro.
“In these circumstances, the announced sectoral sanctions against Venezuela's financial and oil sectors are clearly aimed at further unbalancing the situation in the country, and exacerbating its economic problems,” Zakharova said. “They embolden the irreconcilables who do not see how they can realize their political potential without removing the Venezuelan leaders from office.”
“The actions of the people behind the sanctions are steeped in cynicism,” she added.
The new sanctions ban the trading of Venezuelan debt and prevent the country's state-run oil company, PDVSA, from selling new bonds to U.S. citizens or financial institutions. Trades of some existing bonds commissioned by Caracas will also be barred. The sanctions are the first to target the Venezuelan economy itself rather than individuals in the government, and won bipartisan praise in the U.S. capital.
The sanctions also come weeks after Trump issued a military threat against Venezuela.
"We have many options for Venezuela," the U.S. president said from his golf course on Aug. 11. "And by the way, I am not going to rule out a military option."
Zakharova noted how such statements threatening military force if the situation in the Venezuela “deteriorates” cast suspicion on Washington's intentions.
“What are the current US sanctions designed to achieve? Are they supposed to benefit the Venezuelan economy? Clearly, the very logic of sanctions implies further increasing tensions,” she said, adding that Russia has reiterated on numerous occasions the danger of allowing the crisis to jeopardize the Venezuelan state.
“Provoking and encouraging from the outside the destabilization of the domestic political situation cannot benefit ordinary Venezuelans, no matter what political views they may have,” she said. “Exactly the opposite is needed: facilitating a dialogue between all the country’s leading political forces, which would create conditions for redressing the economic situation.”
Highlighting the importance of friendly countries assisting any process of reconciliation between the opposition and the government, Zakharova explained how Moscow is willing to make its contribution to the extent required.
“We believe there is no alternative to peaceful responsible talks in the proper legal framework and without outside interference,” she said. “Everything that goes beyond this framework is aimed at undermining the constitutional order in Venezuela and leading to new deprivations for its citizens.”
“We will carefully analyze the implications of the sanctions imposed by the United States, and their possible effect on the interests of Russia and Russian businesses,” she continued.
“We can already say that they will not affect our willingness to expand and strengthen cooperation with the friendly nation of Venezuela and its people.”