Excerpt of the weekly MFA briefing by Maria Zakharova:
The UN Security Council held a meeting in New York yesterday at the initiative of the US to discuss the humanitarian situation in Venezuela. Russia’s position, whereby this is not the appropriate platform or format for discussing this topic, remains unchanged. We are not turning a blind eye to the challenging social, economic and humanitarian developments in Venezuela. Still, we do not see any threats to regional, let alone international, stability or security.
Representatives of Donald Trump’s administration are obsessive in hammering home the message that “all options are on the table.” This is a matter of grave concern. Let me reiterate that the possible military scenario, if this is what representatives of the US establishment have in mind, would lead nowhere. It is dangerous, since it could bring about a civil war. We urge our US colleagues to review these irresponsible plans that are at odds with international law. I would like to draw the attention of our Western colleagues once again to what they have done in a number of countries around the world. Just look at the scenarios you have been trying to follow there, and what came out of it.
We will continue to do everything we can to prevent the dangerous scenarios that we witnessed in a number of countries from taking place in Venezuela. We are glad that there is little support for this option within the international community, even though Washington regrettably persists in its efforts.
It is also unfortunate that the US Security Council was not able to refrain from discussing the humanitarian situation in Venezuela. Vice President Mike Pence’s remarks went beyond the bounds of decency when he called for recognising Venezuela’s new leader, backing up his claims with ultimatums and threats of new sanctions.
Representatives of the US administration do not hesitate when it comes to breaking fundamental principles and norms of international and regional law as they seek to unseat the legitimate President of Venezuela. Aggressive rhetoric against official diplomatic representatives of the Venezuelan government, recognising appointees who appeared out of nowhere, illegal takeover of diplomatic property, financial assets and other acts of this kind are all reminiscent of gang warfare rather than what professional politicians and diplomats normally do. It is possible that the US is guided by its own experience when it promotes broad recognition and largely directs the appointment of so-called Venezuelan ambassadors and official representatives around the world. Over the past years, we have seen people without any prior experience in public service being appointed US ambassadors, be it in executive or legislative branches, let alone diplomatic work. These were people that were in good graces of one administration or another or contributed to an election campaign financially. They were rewarded by ambassador posts. This is how it happens in the US. This does not mean, however, that this approach, coupled with violations of international law, should be applied elsewhere.
Washington conceals its disdain for the decades-old international legal framework behind the opaque notion of a rules-based world order and imposes it everywhere, including in regional and international affairs. This fully applies to the call by Mike Pence on the UN Security Council to withdraw the mandate from Venezuela’s permanent representative, as well as to the prospect of the US putting forward a resolution recognising the legitimacy of this country’s alternative government and its representative.
There were new developments lately regarding this situation. In particular, the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States, a prominent structure in the Western hemisphere, decided to accept the appointment of a permanent representative designated by Venezuela’s National Assembly. This is nothing short of an attempt to legitimise the dual rule in Venezuela. The fallout from this is not just hypothetical, but real, since it establishes the duality of power in a sovereign country. All the prerequisites are created for a major internal standoff in this country. Instead of promoting a settlement and building bridges between the political sides, they are doing just the opposite. The sides are being separated only to be pitted against one another so as to make it impossible to settle this conflict by political or diplomatic means.
In addition to this, having placed on the agenda the question of the status of Venezuelan government’s official representatives, the US delegation ignored all legal arguments of other countries that are members of the Organisation of American States. In particular, this related to the fact that the Permanent Council is not entitled to determine the powers of delegations, and questions of this kind cannot be decided by a simple majority. Instead, they must be reviewed by the General Assembly of the Organisation of American States, to say the least. Therefore, the decision taken by the Permanent Council directly contradicts the organisation’s statutory documents, undermines it and is detrimental to the status of this structure. But who cares when the stakes are so high?
We call on our partners in Latin America and the Caribbean to think about the fallout from this precedent and how it will affect the future work of the Organisation of American States. I want to ask our foreign partners: What will happen if the US tries to further promote the approach of recognising a representative of an impostor as tested within the Organisation of American States? Who will be targeted after Venezuela?
In this connection, I would like to remind you that there is no such notion as collective recognition of governments and their powers in international law. This is a sovereign right of every country. Only the head of state, head of government and foreign minister are entitled to appoint official representatives abroad. We firmly oppose all attempts by a number of countries to question the powers of the Venezuelan delegation within various frameworks, and remain committed to fending off any such attempts moving forward. The ongoing developments are merely an attempt to revert human development to a primitive state.
Regarding humanitarian aid to Venezuela, there are no objective reasons for imposing it on Caracas. There are no hostilities taking place in the country, there were no natural disasters or epidemic outbreaks. Once again, let me point out that the best way to help the people of Venezuela is to lift the illegal unilateral sanctions that target primarily the people of Venezuela. This is what Washington is after, going to great lengths in order to make sure that every Venezuelan suffers and shapes his or her political position accordingly. Washington tested these tactics in many regions of the world.
For example, efforts to block the access of regional and local authorities to financial resources constitute a serious challenge for the people, while no one is questioning the legitimacy of these resources. Just think about it: the cost of humanitarian aid Washington seeks to impose on Venezuela is in the tens of millions of dollars, while the overall effect of sanctions, according to Venezuela, is estimated at over 110 billion dollars. Just give them their money back, lift the sanctions and the country will be back on track. Even a small portion of this enormous amount would have helped deal with the shortage of medicine and other essential goods in Venezuela, and help launch the needed economic reforms. Let me reiterate what we have been saying all along: if the package of measures that is currently used in Venezuela were applied to any so-called developed Western country, let alone developing ones, the targeted country would collapse.
The use by Washington of restrictive measures and threats against countries that work with official Caracas, in particular Cuba, which has been suffering from a US blockade for more than 50 years, is extremely cynical. By the way, by failing to abide by the UN General Assembly resolution urging to end the embargo against Cuba is yet another example of the US showing disdain for UN resolutions.
As for Russia, we stand for strict compliance with norms and principles of international law in all aspects related to a settlement in Venezuela, against ratcheting up tension and imposing outside rule on a sovereign country.