The United States should take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats to increase its military presence in Russia and Venezuela very seriously, said former Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations, Diego Arria, who warned that the next steps in the diplomatic clash between the two powers could have great repercussions in the oil country and in the entire region.
Arria, who was also a minister, governor and presidential candidate in Venezuela, stressed that Russia is in the process of turning Latin America into its backyard, expanding its influence in the region through Cuba and Venezuela, where it already has a strong presence.
“Putin wants to extend his backyard to Latin America, in this case to Cuba and Venezuela, and that he succeeds in doing so in the face of the indifference of the last four US presidents,” Arria said.
He added that this indifference was marked at one point by the statements made before the OAS by the then former Secretary of State, John Kerry, declaring that the Monroe Doctrine had come to an end.
That US indifference in recent years has sent a signal to countries like Russia, China, Iran and Turkey that they have carte blanche to intervene in Latin America and that would have a major destabilizing effect on the region, he said.
In the Venezuelan case, the Monroe Doctrine was vital to protect the South American nation from the claims that England and Germany had over its territory for more than a century, and that vision was vital to force Russia in 1962 to remove nuclear missiles from Cuba, said the diplomat.
“Today in Venezuela it is not known how many Russian officers we have, nor how many advisers who go beyond what is necessary to handle the sophisticated weapons that they sent to Venezuela and who today carry out intelligence and cyber warfare tasks,” Arria said.
“Many of the Venezuelan officers are already being trained and educated in Russian military and intelligence institutes,” he added.
Arria’s comments come shortly after Russia warned that a Russian military deployment in Cuba and Venezuela cannot be ruled out if tensions with the United States escalate.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who led the Russian delegation to Monday’s negotiations in Geneva, said in televised remarks Thursday that he could neither confirm nor exclude the possibility of Russia establishing a military infrastructure in Cuba and Venezuela.
Talks in Geneva and Wednesday’s meeting between Russia and NATO have failed to reduce disagreements over Russia’s security demands, as Russia keeps troops stationed near Ukraine.
In an interview with Russian television RTVI, Ryabkov reported that “everything depends on the actions of our American counterparts,” adding that President Putin has warned that Russia could take military-technical measures if the United States acts to provoke Russia and raise military pressure.
This article was supplemented by the wire services of el Nuevo Herald