US and Russian foreign ministers discuss Venezuela crisis in Sochi talks

US and Russian foreign ministers discuss Venezuela crisis in Sochi talks

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today in the

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Photo: Reuters

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today in the Black Sea port city of Sochi. The ongoing political crisis in Venezuela will likely top the agenda.

The US and Russia differ in their choice of leadership in the South American country. Russia, along with China and Cuba, backs the regime of Nicolas Maduro, who continues to enjoy support from the country’s military. Washington and 50 other governments support the opposition leader and head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, who led a failed uprising labelled ‘Operation Freedom’ against Mr Maduro on April 30.

Russia has a multifaceted agenda in Venezuela. The latter is a major arms consumer for Moscow, and Russian oil giant Rosneft is a dominant player in the Venezuelan oil market. President Putin could emerge as a stronger geopolitical actor in Washington’s hemisphere after establishing influence in Caracas, following a similar modus operandi to the one employed in Syria, where he emerged a winner in the Middle East through arms and oil.

Expect the US and Russia to play out their diplomatic strengths in another arena under a heightened threat of military intervention by the US, though direct intervention still remains unlikely.

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