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Ex-Belgian advisor says US ignited unrest in Venezuela due to Caracas’ closer Russia ties

On January 23, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president during an opposition rally in Caracas

BRUSSELS, January 29. /TASS/. Venezuela's rapprochement with Russia, especially in the military and economic spheres, was an additional factor that contributed to Washington’s effort to implement regime change in that country, Belgian political scientist and former adviser to the country’s Foreign Ministry, Marc Vanderlinden, told TASS on Tuesday.

"Nicolas Maduro, just like his predecessor Hugo Chavez, has always been a strong irritant for the US, who criticized their socialist methods of ruling the country, anti-liberal stance, and foreign policy, especially, its rapprochement with Cuba," he pointed out. "The economic crisis in Venezuela created the social tensions necessary for regime change. However, Russian loans and the expansion of military cooperation served as a strong impulse for decisive action. Russian strategic bombers and the likelihood of a military base there was a powerful incentive to initiate the regime change."

According to the foreign policy expert, the European Union is not just toeing Washington’s line by saying it could formally recognize the Venezuelan opposition’s leader as the legitimate head of state. "The EU member states are indeed held under the powerful influence of the United States and the principles of Transatlantic solidarity. However, Europe has already worked out a standard reaction to mass protests in third countries, especially when the Western community brands their leaders as autocrats. In such cases, the opposition always receives broad support from the EU. Then, some kind of race on who will offer the most radical forms of that support begins between European countries," the Belgain ex-advisor noted.

The expert pointed out that the only exception to this rule in recent years was the attempted military coup in Turkey in July 2016. "However, that attempted regime change was purely a scenario involving force, without any far-reaching public protests, which was quickly quashed. What’s more, close ties between Turkey and the EU offered the coup plotters no hope of support in European capitals despite criticism of President Erdogan there," he emphasized.

On January 23, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president during an opposition rally in Caracas. Later in the day, the US recognized him as interim head of state. Venezuela's incumbent President Nicolas Maduro blasted these developments as an attempted coup and said he was cutting diplomatic ties with the United States.

The EU later said it would recognize Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president if Caracas failed to announce an early election in accordance with Article 233 of Venezuela’s Constitution.