US must coordinate Syria airstrikes with Damascus: Russia

Lavrov: US policy aimed at toppling Venezuela’s government

Tasnim – Washington and its closest allies are openly pursuing a policy aimed at overthrowing the legitimate authorities in Caracas, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.

“We are concerned about what the US and its closest allies are doing with respect to Venezuela, brazenly violating all imaginable norms of international law and actually openly pursuing the policy aimed at overthrowing the legitimate government in that Latin American country,” the minister said, TASS news agency reported.

The decision to make US companies exempt from the sanctions against Venezuela is evidence of Washington’s intention to change the government in that country and receive profit, he added.

“This merely underscores the cynicism of the current developments: US companies operating in Venezuela are exempt from sanctions. In other words, they wish to change the government and derive material gains from this,” Lavrov said.

The leaders of the opposition in Venezuela are getting instructions from Washington to make no concessions to the authorities in Caracas, Lavrov said.

“According to our sources, the leaders of the opposition movement who have declared ‘dual power’ in fact are getting instructions from Washington not to make any concessions until the authorities agree to abdicate in this or that way,” Lavrov said.

“We understand that the United States – to put it simply – has got the bit between its teeth and is openly seeking to change the regime,” Lavrov noted. “Nevertheless, it doesn’t eliminate the need to uphold international law through all available means,” he added.

“Together with other responsible members of the international community, we will do everything to support President Maduro’s legitimate government in upholding the Venezuelan constitution and employing methods to resolve the crisis that are within the constitutional framework,” the Russian top diplomat stressed.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton’s note about sending troops to Colombia gives rise to thoughts, particularly given Washington’s statements about a potential military intervention in Venezuela, he said.

“I have read reports saying that apparently yesterday, John Bolton held a press briefing and, according to the media, was careless enough to expose some notes to journalists with TV and photo cameras. The note read ‘5,000 troops to Colombia.’ It gives rise to thoughts, particularly given overt calls for using Venezuela’s neighboring countries to launch a direct intervention on account of the difficult humanitarian situation in Venezuela, which can be heard from the United States and a number of other countries,” the Russian top diplomat noted.

The note in question became the center of attention at Bolton’s press briefing. Many media outlets posted a photo of him holding a notepad with handwritten notes that read “Afghanistan – welcome the talks” and “5,000 troops to Colombia.” When asked about a potential US military intervention, a White House spokesperson noted, “As the president has said, all options are on the table.”

Colombia’s Defense and Foreign Ministries later rejected reports about a potential deployment of 5,000 US troops to the country. Colombian Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said that Bogota was unaware of any such plans.

Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country’s Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country’s capital of Caracas on January 23. Several countries, including the United States, Lima Group members except Mexico, Australia, Albania, Georgia and Israel, as well as the Organization of American States, recognized him. Maduro, in turn, blasted the move as a coup staged by Washington and said he was severing diplomatic ties with the US.

Spain, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands said on January 26 that they would recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president unless Maduro called elections in eight days.

Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Turkey voiced support for Maduro, while China called for resolving all differences peacefully and warned against foreign interference. The United Nations secretary general, in turn, called for dialogue to resolve the crisis.