Russia's Putin: US military meddling in Venezuela disastrous
Story Code : 798274
President Vladimir Putin made the remarks during his meeting with chiefs of international news agencies on the sideline of an economic forum in St. Petersburg.
"We are against intervention into interior political affairs of other countries. We think it causes drastic, if not tragic consequences. The cases of countries like Libya, Iraq are the best proof to that," he said.
"We do not approve [of influencing internal politics of Venezuela]. We condemn such actions, let alone military intervention. It is a disaster,” Putin added.
The Russian president noted that even the US’s allies did not support such mobilization by Washington against the Latin American country.
The remarks came a day after Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping issued a joint statement in Moscow, similarly expressing opposition to any military intervention in Venezuela and calling for “inclusive political dialog” between conflicting parties.
Venezuela has been in a political chaos in recent months. Things took a turn for the worse when the US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido unilaterally declared himself the “interim president” of the country in January.
Contrary to Moscow and Beijing, which back Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his democratically-elected government, Washington has been encouraging Guaido’s attempts to topple Maduro. Washington ratcheted up the support during an abortive coup that saw Guaido’s supporters spreading chaos across Venezuela in late April.
The US has, meanwhile, been calling for withdrawal of Russian servicemen from Venezuela. Russia maintains about 1,000 military experts there as part of a mutual defense agreement.
Also in his remarks, Putin reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the deal, saying, “We have fulfilled and we will fulfill our contract commitments in the area of defense cooperation."
He, however, rejected the notion that Moscow sought to set up any military bases or anything of the nature in Venezuela, saying, “We do not send any troops there. It has never happened.”
Threat of arms race
Separately, the Russian head of state cautioned that the US refusal to negotiate the future of its New START nuclear arms treaty with Russia threatened to fuel a nuclear arms race.
The US under President Donald Trump is avoiding negotiation with Russia over renewal of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which caps the number of the nuclear warheads each country can maintain. This is while the treaty is set to expire in two years.
"We said a hundred times that we are ready [to extend it]," Putin said, lamenting that Washington was "not conducting any talks" on the issue with Moscow. "There is no formal negotiating process. And in 2021 everything will end," he added.
In the absence of such an accord, "there won't be any instruments limiting an arms race, for example, deploying space-based weapons," Putin noted, saying, "This means that nuclear weapons will be hanging over every one of us all the time."
The statesman, however, said if the US was disinclined towards the agreement’s renewal, Russia was prepared to drop it.
In February, Washington pulled out of another agreement known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which had been signed in 1987, forcing Moscow to follow suit.