In rare support for Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro assured Vladimir Putin of his “strong support” in a phone call on Tuesday, according to a Kremlin statement.
In Caracas’ appeal, the Venezuelan leader also condemned “destabilizing actions by the United States and NATO” and spoke out against a Western campaign of “lies and misinformation”.
Dozens of people have been killed and nearly 680,000 have fled Ukraine since Putin ordered his troops there last week after failing to secure assurances that NATO will not expand its military alliance eastward.
Speaking to Maduro, Putin insisted that the objectives of the military strike were to protect “the civilian population” of the separatist region of Donbass and to get Kiev to recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.
It also sought to ensure a “neutral and non-nuclear” Ukrainian position towards Russia, the statement said.
After the call, Maduro posted a message on Twitter with a photo of him and Putin, and also said he told Russian leader Venezuela to “be for understanding and dialogue as a way to keep the peace”.
Venezuela, along with Cuba and Nicaragua – all targets of United States sanctions – are Latin American allies of Moscow.
The United States and dozens of other countries do not recognize Maduro’s re-election in 2018, which they say was fraudulent.
During an interview in December, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov did not rule out Moscow sending troops to Venezuela or Cuba if diplomacy with the United States over Ukraine failed.
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