Russia: U.S. Using Humanitarian Convoy As Pretext for Military Intervention in Venezuela

By Patrick Goodenough | February 15, 2019 | 4:35am EST
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova holds a press briefing in Moscow. (Photo: Foreign Ministry)

( – Russia’s foreign ministry on Thursday accused the United States of supplying humanitarian aid to Venezuela as a pretext for military force against the Maduro regime.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova aired the conspiracy theory during a press briefing in Moscow, where she referred to U.S. humanitarian aid, including food and medicine, that has been blocked by regime armed forces at the Venezuela-Colombia border.

If the organizers of the mission really wanted to help the Venezuelan people as they claim, Zakharova said, it would be “logical” to do so through the U.N., which has extensive experience and operates “in line with the principles of impartiality, neutrality, independence and humanity.”

“Let’s not be fooled,” she continued. “Under the cover of a humanitarian convoy, a provocation, involving victims, is being prepared, which is needed as a pretext for outside military action. This should all be clearly understood.”

Zakharova said providing aid may sound like a good thing, “if you do not understand the mechanics of how this aid is formed, delivered and what is really hidden behind it.”

She suggested that the U.S. has used aid in this nefarious way in the past, in countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Russia’s Tass news agency characterized what the spokeswoman claims the U.S. is planning as a “false flag” – that is, a covert operation designed to point a finger at a purported offender, while the actual perpetrator’s hand remains hidden.

Russia is a close ally of Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, and together with Cuba, China, Iran, Nicaragua, Turkey and the Assad regime in Syria, opposes calls for him to stand down.

Maduro has said the aid convoys are a pretext for a military invasion. Maduro, as did his predecessor, the late President Hugo Chavez, frequently claims that the U.S. is plotting a “coup” against the socialist government.

‘Crime against humanity’

Leading the calls for aid is Juan Guaido, the leader of the National Assembly whom the U.S. and 50 other countries now recognize as interim president under Venezuela’s constitution.

According to the State Department the cost to feed a family for a month is more than 100 times the monthly minimum wage in Venezuela. Almost 90 percent of hospitals surveyed report medicine shortages, and the number of Venezuelans who have left their country, now around three million, is projected to rise to more than five million by the end of 2019:

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro at Putin's state residence outside Moscow on December 5, 2018. (Photo: The Kremlin)

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced last week it was pre-positioning, in the Colombian border city of Cucuta, food supplies, hygiene kits and emergency medical kits, to help address the most pressing needs identified by Guaido’s team.

But Maduro’s military blocked a bridge marking a key border crossing from Colombia, to prevent the aid from entering.

Colombian President Ivan Duque at a meeting with President Trump on Wednesday said by blocking aid Maduro was committing a “crime against humanity.”

For his part, Trump did not rule out a military intervention option, although U.S. special representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams told a House Foreign Relations Committee hearing that same day that it was “not the path the United States is pursuing.”

Speaking at an Organization of American States (OAS) conference on emergency humanitarian assistance for Venezuela on Thursday, Abrams said, “Today, in the face of indisputable facts, Maduro and his regime continue to assert that there is no humanitarian crisis at all.”

“But everyone knows that this is false. And most of all, the Venezuelan people know it.”

“We have stocked warehouses full of food and basic medicines, at the border crossing at Cucuta, Colombia,” Abrams said. “And we are seeking ways to help bring these supplies into Venezuela where they can be distributed to people in need.”

In an interview with the BBC this week, Maduro accused the U.S. of creating “a humanitarian crisis in order to justify a military intervention.”

“That’s the reason that we, with dignity, tell them that the miniscule crumbs that they intend to bring, with toxic food, with leftovers that they have, we tell them no. Venezuela has dignity, Venezuela produces and works and our people do not beg from anyone.”

Speaking to a Lebanon-based news channel a day later, Maduro said Guaido and those around him were “puppets who serve the extremist administration of Donald Trump that wants to colonize Venezuela.”

“The so-called humanitarian intervention that the U.S. is talking about aims at subduing our country and seizing its natural resources,” he said.

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