21:50 GMT12 August 2020
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    The long-running political crisis in Venezuela, which began to escalate when US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself 'interim president' in January, is close to entering its fifth month, with no apparent end in sight.

    The United States has developed a new plan to destabilise the situation in Venezuela which envisions the possible violation of the country's territorial integrity, Venezuelan Defence Council Secretary General Pascualino Angiolillo Fernandez has said.

    "Within the framework of this plan, the US envisions three strategic elements. They seek to strike a blow against three key pillars: these are [the Venezuelan] people, the government and our territory," Fernandez explained, speaking to journalists in the Russian city of Ufa during an international conference hosted by Russia's Security Council.

    According to the official, the strategy includes specific goals, including the destabilisation of the Venezuelan government's ability to operate and the decline of the welfare of ordinary citizens. The US also seeks to violate the country's territorial integrity, according to Fernandez.

    On Monday, Fernandez met Russian National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev in Moscow to discuss the prospects for cooperation in the field of security, including information security and assistance in maintaining internal political stability.

    Oil pumps are seen in Lake Maracaibo, in Lagunillas, Ciudad Ojeda, in the state of Zulia, Venezuela, March 20, 2015
    © REUTERS / Isaac Urrutia/File Photo
    Oil pumps are seen in Lake Maracaibo, in Lagunillas, Ciudad Ojeda, in the state of Zulia, Venezuela, March 20, 2015

    During Monday's meeting, Patrushev reiterated Russia's "unshakable" commitment to support Venezuela's democratically elected government, and confirmed Moscow's willingness to help contribute to political dialogue between the government and the opposition aimed at overcoming the political crisis.

    On January 23, just weeks after President Nicolas Maduro's inauguration for a second term, Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido proclaimed himself the country's 'interim president', receiving near-immediate recognition from the US and its Latin American and European allies. The crisis prompted the US to slap Caracas with a package of tough sanctions, and the seizure of billions of dollars in US-based assets belonging to Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA.

    President Maduro has repeatedly accused the opposition of plundering oil assets belonging to the Venezuelan people. This week, two senior lawmakers from the pro-Guaido opposition were suspected of spending moneys meant for humanitarian aid on lavish private dinners, shopping and hotels.

    Amid US and European support for Guaido, Russia, China, and several dozen other nations have voiced their support for President Maduro and the elected Venezuelan government, or urged outside powers not to interfere in the country's internal affairs.


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