VENEZUELA: Kremlin Beefs Up Security For Maduro

SA backs beleaguered Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro

Washington, which was among the first to recognise Guaido as leader of the oil-rich country, urged the world on Saturday to "pick a side" on Venezuela and financially disconnect from Maduro's government.

The United States and at least a dozen other countries have officially recognized Guaido, while Russia, China and others have thrown their support behind Maduro.

Guaido took the helm of the National Assembly on January 5 and then proclaimed himself interim president on January 23.

At a special UN Security Council session on Saturday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described Maduro as part of an "illegitimate mafia state" responsible for Venezuela's economic collapse.

The Top United Nations political official told the Security Council on Saturday that dialogue and cooperation were vital to ending the crisis in Venezuela.

A source in Caracas said that Maduro feared that USA troops be withdrawn from Afghanistan and Syria, they could be well-suited for redeployment in a Colombia-based conflict with Venezuela.

'No more delays, no more games.

"It's not time to be afraid, it's not time to back off, it's time to respect the people of Venezuela".

Pompeo was addressing the 15-member UN Security Council, which met at his request after Washington and a string of countries in the region recognised Guaido as head of state and urged Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to step down.

Pompeo was gone by the time Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza took the floor to accuse the USA of trying to "trigger a civil war" in Venezuela and listed nearly two centuries of US interventions in the region going back to the Monroe Doctrine in 1823. "China always opposes interference in other countries' internal affairs and opposes foreign interference in Venezuela's affairs", he said.

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"Nobody is going to give us deadlines or tell us if there are elections or not", Arreaza said.

"The armed forces have a fundamental role to play in the restoration of democracy", Col. Jose Luis Silva said in the video, which he claimed was shot in the Venezuelan Embassy in D.C.

Recognition of Guaido by the U.S., Venezuela's biggest trade partner, already threatens to heap more misery on the country's crisis-stricken economy, and a similar move by European nations would complicate matters further.

Pompeo went after Russian Federation and China, accusing them of trying "to prop up Maduro while he is in dire straits ... in the hopes of recovering billions of dollars in ill-considered investments and assistance made over the years".

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday (Jan 27) rejected a European ultimatum that he call elections as opposition rival Juan Guaido stepped up appeals to the military to turn against the leftist government.

"They can cut a flower, but they will never keep spring from coming", Guaido told supporters Friday, alluding to a phrase from the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

The State Department did not confirm the Venezuelan government's account, reiterating only that its priority remains the safety of its personnel and that it has no plans to close the embassy.

Venezuelan authorities said they had put down an attempted revolt on Monday by rogue military officers about a kilometer from the presidential palace in Caracas.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza accused the USA of attempting to orchestrate a "shameless, obvious" coup.

He said he was interested in talking to anybody, civilian or military, who would support ending what he calls Maduro's "usurpation" and back a transition government and free elections.

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