MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia considers moves to force Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from power to be illegal, Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency on Thursday.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Wednesday, winning the backing of Washington and many Latin American nations and prompting socialist Maduro, who has led the oil-rich nation since 2013, to sever diplomatic relations with the United States.
Venezuela, the most significant U.S. foe in Latin America, is a close ally of Russia and Moscow has become a lender of last resort for Caracas as its socialist-run economy implodes.
Russian lawmaker Franz Klinzevich on Thursday warned Moscow could wind up its military cooperation with Venezuela if Maduro, whom he called the legitimately-elected president, was ousted.
Russia has invested in its oil industry and provided support to its military. Last month two Russian strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons landed in Venezuela in a show of a support that infuriated Washington.
U.S. President Donald Trump formally recognised Guaido shortly after his announcement and praised his plan to hold elections. That was swiftly followed by similar statements from Canada and a slew of right-leaning Latin American governments, including Venezuela’s neighbours Brazil and Colombia.