26 Jun 2020 16:09

Moscow insists on lifting U.S. sanctions against Caracas - Foreign Ministry

MOSCOW. June 26 (Interfax) - Moscow insists on lifting the U.S. sanctions against Caracas in response to the U.S. call to step up assistance to Venezuela amid the coronavirus pandemic, Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Latin America Department Alexander Shchetinin told Interfax.

"Responding to those words which were spoken in Geneva, we can say that if there is concern about the plight of Venezuelans in their home country, clearly, the most important step in this area should be the lifting of the sanctions imposed on Venezuela, which affect crucial areas of the activity of the national economy and directly project on the social situation in the country. If there are concerns, let everyone begin with themselves," Shchetinin said, replying to a question from Interfax on Friday.

Russia "is taking vigorous efforts to assist Venezuela, including in the fight against the novel coronavirus, which has affected the entire world, including Venezuela," he said.

U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliot Abrams has called on Russia and China to increase humanitarian assistance to Venezuela amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"According to the official statistics from the WHO, Venezuela has fairly moderate infections, especially compared with other countries in Latin American, including Venezuela's neighbors. The assistance is being provided, in particular, medical supplies and drugs for treating Covid-19 and for other medical purposes, considering that the novel coronavirus clearly does not stop or delay the need for treating other conditions," Shchetinin said.

"Humanitarian assistance is a necessary and correct action, which should be provided consistent with the principles of the relevant UN resolution," however, "the subject of humanitarian aid should not be politicized or ideologized," he said.

Russian Ambassador to Venezuela Sergei Melik-Bagdasarov, in turn, told Interfax when commenting on Abrams's call, "We have a very good saying on this topic: why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but don't consider the beam that is in your own eye? In this case, the beam is the unilateral restrictive measures which contravene international law and which the U.S. is using to smother the people of Venezuela in a deliberate and malicious way in an attempt to overthrow the legitimate government of that country."

"Even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Washington continues to freeze billions of dollars owned by Venezuela in accounts in its banks. The government could have used this money to independently buy everything it needs without obtrusive and politicized external pseudo-assistance," he said.

"The United States is continuously increasing the military contingent stationed in the Caribbean Sea under the pretext of an alleged drug control operation," he said.

"Besides, one should not forget about the armed attack on Venezuela, which was perpetrated in early May by the U.S. private military company Silvercorp. All these are links in the same chain, which is called interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. A feeling of all-permissiveness clouds one's vision and judgment. That's why prejudices prevent them from seeing something good, even when they want to," Melik-Bagdasarov said.