Russia has warned that the United States is considering a range of options against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, including a direct military invasion of the Latin American country, which has been engulfed in political unrest over the past weeks.
“There are still signs coming from Washington about the possibility of using force in order to overthrow the legal authorities, including through direct military invasion,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a weekly briefing in Moscow on Thursday. “This is actually being spoken about openly in the White House.”
Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have thronged the streets of Venezuela, holding rallies in support and against Maduro, who began his second six-year term in office last month.
The clashes began after Juan Guaido, the opposition leader in the country’s National Assembly, proclaimed himself as “interim president” and urged Maduro to resign.
The US rushed to support Guaido, announcing sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry. Other US officials have also doubled down on the possibility of military action, reiterating President Donald Trump’s stance that “all options are on the table.”
In an interview with CBS on Sunday, Trump said military action against Maduro remained “an option.”
Zakharova said Thursday that Washington had already made up its mind about a military action and “everything else is nothing more than a covering operation.” The Russian diplomat said such threats violated the Charter of the United Nations.
She criticized American officials for threatening Caracas with more economic sanctions while calling on the military to defect the legal government of Maduro.
“Washington has turned to direct threats of sanctions to the Venezuelan military, which remains loyal to the legitimate government. That is just a different, new reading of the ‘carrot and stick’ approach. On the one hand, they threaten a potential punishment. On the other hand, they promise a potential reward”, Zakharova noted.
“I would like to recall that this kind of statement from the mouth of American officials is a direct violation of Article 2 Par. 4 of the UN Charter, ordering all UN members to refrain from the threat or use of force in international relations”, she said at the briefing.