Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday that his government will do everything possible to help Cuba and Venezuela overcome the economic difficulties faced by the latest round of U.S. sanctions.
Ryabkov (pictured) told reporters the latest round of U.S. sanctions was illegal and that Russia would do everything in power to support the far-left regimes in both Cuba and Venezuela.
“We are concerned over the continuing actions by the United States toward the countries of the Latin American region. We see the sanctions as absolutely unlawful and illegitimate,” he said, according to Russian propaganda outlet Sputnik. “We will oppose them. Venezuela and Cuba are our allies and strategic partners in the region. We will do everything we can to let them feel our support.”
On Wednesday, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton announced a fresh round of sanctions against the Maduro regime and the communist government in Havana. The sanctions included new limits on remittances to Cuba and its access to foreign currency, as well as new sanctions on the Central Bank of Venezuela that prohibit its access to U.S. dollars.
“Under this administration, we don’t throw dictators lifelines. We take them away,” said Bolton at an event to mark the 58th anniversary of the failed liberation effort at Bay of Pigs. “Through the Treasury Department, we will also implement changes to end the use of ‘U-turn transactions’, which allow the regime to circumvent sanctions and obtain access to hard currency and the US banking system.”
Russia has over recent years proven a vital ally to both Castro and Maduro, providing financial and military support to both regimes. Last month, Russian troops arrived in Caracas to help bolster Maduro’s authority amid widespread calls for him to step down as the country suffers the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in its history.
Following U.S. condemnation of the exchange, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that troops would remain in the country as “for as long as needed” and accused the U.S. of trying to “stage a coup” in the country through the threat of military action.
“They are involved in the implementation of agreements in the sphere of military and technical cooperation,” she said at the time. “Russia is not changing the balance of power in the region, Russia is not threatening anyone, unlike citizens in Washington whom I have just quoted.”
Since January, the U.S. has stepped up efforts to remove the Maduro regime from power in Venezuela, mainly through recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country’s legitimate president and imposing a range of economic sanctions aimed at squeezing the regime’s external revenues. President Donald Trump has warned Russia to leave the country, while repeatedly insisting that “all options are on the table” for instigating a transition to democracy, including the possibility of military force.
“Russia has to get out,” Trump said during a meeting with Guaidó’s wife Fabiana Rosales in the White House last month. “Venezuela was and is still a country with tremendous potential where people are starving. They’re getting killed. They’re being beaten. What’s going on there is unfathomable.”