The United States has presented a draft resolution on Venezuela to the United Nations Security Council, triggering a Russian counterproposal.
The U.S. draft resolution calls for international aid deliveries and presidential elections in Venezuela while stressing “deep concern with the violence and excessive use of force by Venezuelan security forces against unarmed, peaceful protesters”.
The U.S. expresses “full support for the National Assembly as the only democratically elected institution in Venezuela”, said a copy of the text obtained by AFP news agency.
In response, Moscow came up with an alternative resolution, expressing its concern for Venezuela’s territorial integrity and political independence.
The Russian draft criticises any “attempts to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of Venezuela”.
The U.S. is sponsoring a campaign for international recognition of Venezuelan opposition leader and head of the country’s elected legislative body Juan Guaido over President Nicolas Maduro. Last month, Guaido declared himself the interim head of state.
While no date has yet been set for a vote on the American draft, negotiations are ongoing.
Showing its support for President Maduro’s regime, Russia will likely use its veto power to block the U.S. resolution, according to diplomats.
Meanwhile, Colonel Ruben Paz Jimenez, deputy of the Directorate of the Military Hospital in Maracaibo, announced his support for Guaido.
In a video shared on social media on Sunday, the military leader said “90 percent” of his colleagues in the armed forces are unhappy and urged fellow troops to allow humanitarian aid into Venezuela.
A week ago, an Air Force general also switched sides, saying he was backing Guaido.
Humanitarian aid sent by the U.S. recently arrived in the Colombian city of Cucuta on the border with Venezuela.
“Venezuela won’t allow the spectacle of fake humanitarian aid because we’re no one’s beggars,” said Maduro.
“Venezuela is not suffering the humanitarian crisis fabricated by Washington over the last four years to justify intervening in our country.”
He blamed the shortage of food and medicine on U.S. sanctions, which mostly target regime individuals as well as state oil company PDVSA.
“Liberate the money that has been blocked and sequestered,” said Maduro. “This is a macabre game. We squeeze them by the neck and make them ask for crumbs.”
He said the aid offer was “a message of humiliation for the people”.
On Friday, Guaido said he was ready to take any necessary measures, including authorising a U.S. military intervention, to force Maduro from power and alleviate the humanitarian crisis.
The Venezuelan military has launched large-scale drills to bolster its combat readiness after the U.S. threatened that it could use military force to oust the elected government of President Nicolas Maduro.
Madruo traveled to the central state of Miranda on Sunday to inspect the troops and military equipment stationed there and attend the opening ceremony of the maneuvers, which will be held across the country and will last until February 15.
Addressing thousands of soldiers at a camp, the president said the war games will be the “most important” drills in the country’s 200-year history.
The armed forces “must prepare to defend [Venezuela’s] sovereignty, territorial integrity, [and] independence,” Maduro said.
Maduro also called on all Venezuelans “to join this comprehensive national plan for the defense of sovereignty and peace. Love the country, and let that love become action. Defend the right to peace.”
The maneuvers come amid a political crisis, which saw the U.S.-backed opposition leader, Juan Guaido, abruptly declare himself “interim president” last month.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump hastily declared support for Guaido, announced sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and said sending military forces to the country was “an option” to push for the Maduro government’s ouster.
Guaido and the U.S. have also been encouraging members of the Venezuelan armed forces to abandon the legitimate government and join the opposition camp, which has also the support of Washington’s European and Latin American allies.