"Russia has to get out," US President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday during a White House meeting with Juan Guaidó's wife, Fabiana Rosales. "All options are open."
There is "nothing mysterious" about the two Russian Air Force planes that landed in Venezuela earlier this week, which a diplomatic source in Caracas told Sputnik Monday was about "contracts that had been concluded long before the crisis in Venezuela."
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro subsequently announced on Russia's Channel One television station that a "high-level working session on intergovernmental cooperation" would be held next month between the two governments, during which they "will sign more than 20 documents on cooperation in the field of economy, trade, energy and education."
"It's very dangerous," Chuck Kaufman, the national co-coordinator of the Alliance for Global Justice, told Radio Sputnik's Loud and Clear Wednesday. "Miscalculations could result in a nuclear holocaust. Somebody has to stand up to the bully that is the United States, and I'm grateful to Russia that they're doing it."
Kaufmann noted to hosts John Kiriakou and Brian Becker that, contrary to being a check on Trump's confrontational attitude toward Russia, the Democrats repeatedly oppose Trump whenever he seeks reconciliation. "When Trump does takes steps toward peace, like with North Korea, they're the war party."
The language White House National Security Adviser John Bolton used to describe Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba — the "troika of tyranny" — recalls then-US President George W. Bush's "axis of evil," which he used to refer to Iraq, Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in 2002. Becker noted that while Bush expected to "roll through" Iraq and begin a domino effect, the stiff resistance put up by Iraqis to the US occupation brought a quick halt to those plans.
That resistance happened with little respect for what Iraqis had thought of their government before the US invasion, and similarly, Venezuelans have shown, as Sputnik has reported, a unity against US imperialism that goes beyond their personal feelings about Maduro's government.
Given Washington's reaction, it feels necessary to point out the very banal, quotidian nature of the Russian visit to Caracas.
"Venezuela is a sovereign nation; it has the right to have normal relations with any country in the world that it wants to have relationships with, including defense relationships," Kaufmann told Sputnik. "It's none of the United States' business."
However, that's not to say there hasn't been a real gesture of solidarity and friendship between Moscow and Caracas since long before the crisis began. Russia stands with roughly three-quarters of the world's nations in refusing to recognize the January 23 claim made by Guaidó that he is the interim president of Venezuela and that Maduro's government is politically illegitimate. Guaidó's claim is recognized by the US and roughly 50 other nations, mostly European powers and Latin American governments close to Washington that form the "Lima Group" that is dedicated to regime change in Venezuela.
However, most Venezuelans had never even heard of Guaidó when he made that claim, and few have gone over to his side.
Since Guaidó can't find friends at home, he seems to have resorted to buying them abroad. Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez presented extensive evidence on Saturday that Guaidó and his associates have been organizing the hiring and smuggling into the country of mercenary soldiers from Colombia and Central America to carry out sabotage and targeted killings in Venezuela. Guaidó's chief-of-staff, Roberto Marrero, was arrested on Thursday, and key evidence of the conspiracy was obtained from his apartment, Sputnik reported.
Russia, Cuba and China have been major supporters of Maduro through this crisis, providing 933 tons of humanitarian aid, much of it medicine, to offset the catastrophic effects of the US-directed economic and political sanctions that make obtaining such goods on the international market difficult.
Beijing has also provided Caracas with over $50 billion in oil-for-loan agreements over the past decade, according to Reuters.
When asked Tuesday about Beijing's position on the Russian visit to Caracas, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters that "countries in the Western Hemisphere, including Latin American countries, are all sovereign states… they have the right to determine their own foreign policy and their way to engage in mutually beneficial cooperation with countries of their own choosing."
"Latin American affairs are not a certain country's exclusive business, nor is Latin America a certain country's backyard," he added. China continues to adhere to a policy of non-interference, but Beijing backs Maduro and has said it "would like to work with the international community to help Venezuela restore stability at an early date," as Geng put it. "Meanwhile, we will continue to advance friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation with Latin American countries."
Accordingly, at the beginning of the month, Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez announced that state oil company PDVSA's office in Lisbon, Portugal, would be moved to Moscow, because Europe had shown it was no longer able to guarantee the safety of Venezuela's assets following the Bank of England's confiscation of $1.56 billion in Venezuelan state gold after Guaidó inquired about halting its repatriation.
The vice president said the move corresponded with plans to increase cooperation with Russian oil companies Rosneft and Gazprom. Oil is Venezuela's primary export and the foundation of its economy, and the country sits on what are believed to be the world's largest reserves.
"We are going to make industrial investments to produce everything we need in our country with the Russian Federation's help," said Rodriguez. "We are strategic partners."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during the same presser that Russia has supplied Venezuela with 64,100 tons of wheat so far in the 2018-19 marketing season, according to data from Russia's SovEcon agriculture consultancy.
Kaufmann said that if the US were successful in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Venezuela, it would create "more chaos and more pressure" on other nations in the hemisphere that stand against US foreign policy, such as Nicaragua and Cuba.
"We would see a triumphalism from the Trump administration that would just make you want to puke," Kaufmann said. "They really believe they can impose their own dystopic vision on the world, including Latin America. So we have to put aside our differences with each other and oppose and expose US efforts to overthrow other governments."