AP NEWS

Moscow accuses U.S. of sending weapons to opposition forces in Venzuela

February 22, 2019

Top Russian diplomats are accusing the Trump White House of secretly providing weapons, under the guise of humanitarian aid, to opposition forces looking to push out embattled socialist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova made the accusations on Thursday amid border clashes between government forces loyal to the Maduro regime and protesters backing opposition leader Juan Guiado.

“We have information that companies from the U.S. and its NATO allies are considering the possibility of buying a large batch of weapons in one of Eastern European countries in order to provide them to the Venezuelan opposition,” Ms. Zakharova said during a press briefing in Moscow.

The weapons delivery, which reportedly includes shipments of “heavy machine guns, grenade launchers, portable missile launchers and ammunition for light weapons and artillery systems,” was ferried into Venezuela as part of aid deliveries transiting through a neighboring country, she said.

The U.S. and nations across the hemisphere last week recognized Mr. Guaido as the country’s rightful leader after Mr. Maduro won re-election in a 2018 vote widely viewed as fraudulent.

Regime officials have also shuttered the country’s border crossings, preventing shipments of food, medicines and other international aid from coming into the country.

The White House has reiterated that “all options are on the table” to see that Mr. Maduro is ousted from office, purposefully leaving open the possibility of military intervention. European allies on Thursday called for a new round of presidential elections to be held in Venezuela.