Russia on Thursday, 24 January, slammed what it called foreign interference in Venezuela and denounced the Opposition's "usurpation of power", calling President Nicolas Maduro the crisis-hit country's legitimate leader.
In a strongly-worded statement backing Moscow ally Maduro, the Russian Foreign Ministry warned that international support for Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president on Wednesday, was a "direct path to lawlessness and bloodshed".
“Only Venezuelans have the right to determine their future. Destructive outside interference, especially in the current extremely tense situation, is unacceptable,” it said.
In a separate statement to reporters, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson slammed attempts by the Opposition to usurp power.
“We consider the attempted usurpation of power in Venezuela as... a breach of the foundations of international law. Maduro is the legitimate head of state.”Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson
On Wednesday, the United States and major South American nations recognised Venezuelan Guaido as interim leader, while the UN urged dialogue in Caracas to avoid "disaster", leaving Maduro increasingly isolated.
The Kremlin has backed Maduro, who has been hit by US and EU sanctions, and ostracised as a dictator by Western powers for his brutal suppression of the Opposition.
Moscow warned Washington against any attempts to militarily intervene in Venezuela. “We caution against any such reckless steps fraught with catastrophic consequences,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Moscow said Washington's "cavalier" actions in the country showed that the United States ignored norms of international law, claiming it wanted to push through a change of power in Venezuela.
Russia has extensive economic interests in Venezuela and invested billions of dollars in its energy sector.
(Published in an arrangement with PTI.)