Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova Update on Venezuela
Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, Moscow, June 4, 2020
In conditions of an extremely difficult financial and economic situation caused by the unilateral US restrictions, the lawful authorities of Venezuela are purposefully countering the coronavirus pandemic.
On June 1, the Government of Nicolas Maduro and opposition representatives in the National Assembly signed a document to cooperate on countering the pandemic with the participation of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO). The sides determined the main areas for this cooperation. We consider it important that the agreement was reached by the Venezuelans themselves with assistance from the WHO regional office. This again confirms the need for this specialised international organisation and its specific contribution to international relations during the pandemic and to anti-coronavirus efforts.
Having taken their first careful steps towards each other, the Venezuelan parties have demonstrated their understanding of the need to develop cooperation to overcome a common threat. This approach is fully consonant with what we have been urging since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic in Venezuela. These first attempts to build confidence and understanding must be followed by further practical cooperation with a view to resolving urgent economic, social and political problems.
Most countries share Russia’s view that a peaceful, inclusive dialogue between the Venezuelans is required for normalising the situation. However, there are differences in the approaches to resolving the country’s problems, and some are fundamental.
The first, and probably key difference is the possibility of using force against Venezuela as a sovereign state. Russia strictly complies with the standards of international law and considers even raising this issue unacceptable.
There is another approach that could be reduced to “all options on the table.” Those who think along these lines do not intend to give it up, despite the failure of a number of anti-Venezuela adventures that used force.
It was announced recently that US military units would be transferred to neighbouring Colombia to assist security forces there. They consist of several hundred “military advisers” with a record of service in Afghanistan. They are being sent to Latin America for the first time. It is hard to believe they will perform their stated mission of strengthening security. Their stay in the direct vicinity of Venezuela is a signal that the illegal entry into the country is possible at any time. This is very serious. Head of the US Southern Command Admiral Craig Faller said that apart from countering illegal actions in the region, these troops will be used for promoting certain ideals and values. These words can only be qualified as a concealed threat and provocation.
Second, US administration officials often speak in favour of intra-Venezuelan dialogue but on each occasion they set forth patently unacceptable terms, such as “Maduro must go.” This is the traditional approach in US relations with sovereign states if the Americans don’t like something. Another condition is the demand that Venezuela stop cooperating with Cuba and certain other countries. Assistance for Venezuela may only be rendered by the “right” allies. This is what US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said again recently in the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. This approach, in which one side is always to blame and the other is always right, is not only unconstructive but also self-defeating. The US continually tries to derail any constructive move in the right direction as the Venezuelan sides try to meet each other halfway and look for compromise. Their efforts are immediately sidetracked.
Third, at the last briefing, we spoke in detail about the adverse impact of unilateral restrictions against the economy and the social sphere in Venezuela.
We are paying much attention to this because such restrictions are a striking example of the violation of international law and are now aggravated by the already complicated epidemiological situation in the world. During the pandemic they look cynical and inhumane because they prevent the Venezuelan authorities from making full-scale efforts to supply the population with medication and other facilities needed for countering the coronavirus.
But the sanctions pressure continues. Warnings made by the US administration several days ago are beyond reason. US officials warned governments of all countries against facilitating, in any way, supplies of Iranian fuel to Venezuela. Earlier threats against insurance companies and ship owners are being supplemented by Washington’s attempts to intimidate port managers and ship owners and captains. In addition to the imposed restrictions and aggressive statements, the US Department of Treasury has recently included another four shipping companies that are involved in bringing fuel to Venezuela. Does this mean that such opportunistic objectives justify the means? We certainly denounce this illegal practice. We demand an end to such actions regarding a sovereign state.
Let’s recall that Venezuela’s priority today is to overcome its domestic differences and mistrust. We urge all responsible political forces in Venezuela to conduct an inclusive national dialogue based on democratic principles and in conformity with national law. It is necessary to pool efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. It is time to sign a large-scale humanitarian agreement. We are ready to support a peaceful political decision that is made by the Venezuelans themselves and render constructive assistance in implementing it while fully respecting Venezuela’s sovereignty.