Russia Claims U.S.-Ukrainian Conspiracy to Arm Venezuelan Opposition Against Maduro

The Associated Press
Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP

Russian officials claimed on Thursday that the United States is planning to arm the opposition in Venezuela by purchasing a variety of weapons and military equipment from Eastern European countries.

In a press conference on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow had received intelligence indicating that Washington is considering the purchase of high-grade military equipment for the Venezuelan opposition.

“We have information that companies from the US and its NATO allies are considering the possibility of buying a large batch of weapons in one of the Eastern European countries in order to provide them to the Venezuelan opposition,” she alleged. “The batch will reportedly include heavy machine guns, grenade launchers, portable missile launchers and ammunition for light weapons and artillery systems. So this is what they mean when they talk about delivering humanitarian aid.”

In recent weeks, the U.S. and other regional contributors have sent millions of dollars worth aid intended to help the desperate population amid the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in the country’s history. The Maduro regime has prevented the majority of the aid from entering the country, meaning Venezuelans must cross the border into Colombia and Brazil in order to access it.

Zakharova also accused the U.S. of planning to work with Ukraine to help transport the weapons to their required destination.

“There is also a Ukrainian trace in this brazen plan,” she noted. “In particular, it is going to involve the Antonov state company, as far as we understand.”  If true, it is currently unclear who would receive the weapons and whether they would be backed up by American troops.

Tensions between Washington and Moscow over the crisis in Venezuela have risen over the past month, as the U.S. and the majority of Latin American nations rally behind interim President Juan Guaidó.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has offered his full backing to the socialist dictatorship, providing Maduro’s regime with crucial financial and military support and, reportedly, private security detail for Maduro and his associates. This week, Maduro also announced that Russia would provide its own aid package directly to Caracas, despite the fact he denies the existence of any economic or humanitarian under his leadership.

Some reports indicate there is deep concern in Moscow that the regime may be on the brink of collapse as a result of the military’s diminishing loyalty to Maduro, an event that would hurt Putin’s ambitions of gaining greater influence in Latin America. President Donald Trump has repeatedly refused to rule out the possibility of a military intervention, although the White House last year decided against a proposal to arm a rebel group planning to overthrow the regime.

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