Russia interested in joining Venezuela contact group — diplomat

Moscow is raising the issue of joining the International Contact Group on Venezuela “at least” as an observer, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told journalists on Tuesday.

“We raised the issue before the organizers of a conference in Montevideo from the very start,” he said. “We are interested in Russia’s joining it at least as an observer,” the senior diplomat added.

According to Ryabkov, recent contacts in Montevideo within the framework of a Mexico-Uruguay initiative to set up a contact group with the participation of the EU and some Latin American countries were not backed unanimously by the international community. “Forces have appeared that call in question the expediency of these efforts,” he explained.

“However, work to establish a dialogue between the government and the opposition forces has no alternatives for us,” the diplomat stressed. “And those who are ready to help them, and we are also among them, must now get into gear,” Ryabkov added.

He said that Moscow has already come up with a series of proposals to Caracas. 

“We maintain very important contact with the authorities of this country,” and are ready to “help find the way out of the situation,” the diplomat said. “I can assure you that different kinds of offers are being made and have been made to our Venezuelan friends,’ Ryabkov said.

“But the main question is what will be the result,” he stressed. “It is necessary to counter a destructive course of a certain group of states with the US at the head with a sensible alternative,” the diplomat added.

On January 23, opposition leader Juan Guaido, whose appointment as parliamentary speaker had been annulled by the Supreme Court two days earlier, declared himself as acting president. On the same day, Washington recognized him as acting head of state, as did the Lima Group countries (barring Mexico), the Organization of American States, and a number of other nations among them, Australia, Albania, Georgia and Israel. President Nicolas Maduro described the developments as an attempted coup.

In contrast, Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Turkey came out in Maduro’s support. The UN secretary-general urged a dialogue for resolving the crisis.