Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hit back at threats from Washington over Moscow’s support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, insisting Caracas and its neighbors deserve the option not to be US vassal states.
“I have heard the threats from Washington about punishing all those who work with Venezuela,” Lavrov confirmed during a press conference in Mexico City on Thursday. “But we are used to that. We are used to American officials saying that yes, Washington is still true to the Monroe Doctrine.”
Russia was merely offering Venezuela and its neighbors in the region a second option, beyond the status quo of subjugation to their northern neighbor, Lavrov suggested.
If the Latin American countries believe they are comfortable under the Monroe Doctrine, well, it’s up to them, but to me it would be humiliating.
“They can take any position on any international issue they want,” he continued, emphasizing that Russia was not forcing anyone’s hand in the region. The 1820s Monroe Doctrine posits that the US has dominion over the nations of the Western Hemisphere, and that any incursion by foreign powers is a hostile act.
Lavrov was apparently referring to a warning from US special envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams, who had hinted earlier on Thursday that Russia could be sanctioned over its continued support for the Latin American country.
“As several administration officials have noted, the Russians may soon find that their continued support of Maduro will no longer be cost-free,” he said, hinting other nations that refuse to fall in line behind self-appointed ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido may also find themselves on the receiving end of sanctions.
The US-backed Guaido was replaced last month as National Assembly speaker in Venezuela and has been reduced to referring to himself as the leader of an ‘alternate’ National Assembly in addition to the ‘interim’ presidency’ he assumed over a year ago.
While the US claims to have 53 countries on its side supporting the increasingly irrelevant upstart, after multiple failed coup attempts and facing dwindling popularity in his own country Guaido’s star is on the wane internationally – everywhere but Washington, that is. He was a guest of honor at US President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, held up as a shining example of resistance to the dreaded socialism.
Abrams also threatened the Maduro government directly, should they harm a hair on the head of Washington’s protégé. “We hope that the regime makes the calculation, particularly after this trip, that the support for Guaido is strong and that the counteraction to any move against him would make it a mistake for the regime,” the diehard hawk said before excoriating Maduro for Venezuela’s “cruel and indefensible” detention of a handful of executives from Citgo following months of house arrest on charges of embezzlement, money laundering and conspiracy.
Citgo – the subsidiary of the Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA and one of the largest US refiners, with a network of more than 5,000 gas stations – ‘broke away’ from its parent after Washington seized billions in assets belonging to Caracas and recognized a shadowy news board of Citgo directors ‘appointed’ by Guaido.
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