Russian and US foreign ministers to open Venezuela dialogue
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and US secretary of state Mike Pompeo will discuss the political situation in Venezuela on Wednesday, according to Lavrov.
The two nations have backed opposite sides in the ongoing dispute, with Russia joining nations such as China and Turkey by throwing its weight behind Maduro's administration and the US siding with most of the EU, Canada and many others in recognising Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president.
Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Latin America Department Alexander Shchetinin on Monday condemned Washington's "unheard of interference in the affairs of a foreign state," and stated that US officials were "only thinking about it as it applies to themselves", according to the state-run Tass Russian News Agency.
Shchetinin also said that the alleged Russian manipulation of US election results was "simply nothing" compared to the way in which the US was interfering in the affairs of the South American nation, particularly condemning calls for members of the Venezuelan military to desert.
A senior White House official was quoted by Reuters on Friday saying that the US was "still having conversations with members of the former Maduro regime, with military members, although those conversations are very, very limited."
Washington suggested at the end of January that "all options" remained on the table, with national security advisor John Bolton photographed with the words "5,000 troops to Colombia" clearly visible on his notepad, suggesting that US military involvement has been discussed at the very least.
Meanwhile, Shchetinin said Maduro's regime had not requested military assistance from Moscow, adding that there was a "big difference" between the situation in Venezuela and the circumstances in Syria that led Russian forces to enter the country in order to defend the regime of President Bashar al Assad.
Venezuela's political fragility is accompanied by an evolving humanitarian crisis, with shortages of essentials such as food and medicine commonplace after years of spiraling hyperinflation, sending millions of Venezuelans fleeing to neighbouring countries or out onto the streets to protest against Maduro's administration.