Defense chiefs of Russia and Venezuela have signed an agreement overseeing visits by warships of both nations to each other’s ports amid persistent US efforts to undermine the government in Caracas.
The military agreement was signed in Moscow on Thursday between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his visiting Venezuelan counterpart Vladimir Padrino Lopez, the Interfax news agency reported.
The development came nearly a week after President Nicolas Maduro vowed during a rally in Caracas that Venezuela ready to resist and “defeat” Washington’s “imperialist blockade” against the South American nation.
His remarks followed repeated rounds of US sanctions, deteriorating Venezuela’s economic problems but still failing to dislodge him from power or prompt the nation’s military authorities to turn against him.
Washington has repeatedly demanded that Moscow withdraw its support for Maduro. Russia has rejected the request, insisting that the US is attempting to instigate a coup against the Venezuelan president in defiance of international law.
The US threatened Russia with new sanctions last month over its support for Maduro. The White House’s point man for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, said the new sanctions against Moscow would be announced on July 25.
“The pressure will continue,” he said at the time. “On Russia, we are still thinking about what sanctions to apply, individual or sartorial.”
Russia said on Thursday the situation in Venezuela remains tense due to US pressure on the South American country.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Washington ignored Moscow’s calls to lift sanctions on sectors relevant to Venezuelans’ social well-being.
Russia, she said, aimed to improve the humanitarian situation in Venezuela.
‘UK training saboteurs in Guyana’
Zakharova also accused the UK of preparing several dozen saboteurs at a base in neighboring Guyana for the “further destabilization of the situation” in Venezuela.
“They [the UK] are finishing the construction of a military base on one of the islands in the mouth of the river Essequibo [in neighboring Guyana], under the pretext of suppression of the smuggling of weapons and drugs,” she said.
Zakharova added that a campaign to discredit Venezuela was being pursued, with the purpose to portray the country as a major drug threat in the region.
She stressed that accusations against Venezuela were not valid as they contradicted UN and US State Department reports, in which other countries are identified as “dominant drug suppliers in the Western Hemisphere.”
Venezuela has been rocked by political unrest since Jan. 10 when President Maduro was sworn in for a second term. Tension escalated when parliament member Juan Guaido declared himself as interim president.
Russia, China and Iran have thrown their weight behind Maduro, as has Turkey.
Spain, Britain, France, Sweden, Germany, Japan and Denmark joined the US and Canada in recognizing Guaido as Venezuela’s interim leader.