Russian minister visits Venezuela, offers full support

CARACAS, Venezuela — Russia and Venezuela reviewed some of their hundreds of bilateral agreements covering the financial, energy, agricultural and several other sectors during discussions between their top diplomats and other high-level officials Tuesday in the South American country.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Venezuelan counterpart Yván Gil held a joint press conference in Caracas hours after the former arrived to the allied country in the second stop of a tour of four Latin American nations. Both men vowed continued support for each other’s country and condemned the economic sanctions that the United States government has imposed on them.

“We fully support the position of our Venezuelan friends,” Lavrov said. “It is their country … and we are going to support it in any way so that the Venezuelan economy becomes an independent economy from the pressures of the United States and other western actors.”

Lavrov’s remarks were translated from Russian to Spanish by a government-provided translator.

Gil and Lavrov, who was expected to also meet with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, said their countries are developing an alternative to SWIFT, the system that enables global financial transactions but to which key Russian banks lost access last year. Those banks were cut off as part of economic sanctions imposed on Russia at the start of the war in Ukraine last year.

Russia, along with China, is an unconditional ally of the Venezuelan government. Its support has allowed it to circumvent crippling economic sanctions meant to oust Maduro.

Lavrov began his tour of Latin America on Monday with a stop in Brazil. He will also visit Cuba and Nicaragua.

Even before they were united by a fight against economic sanctions, Venezuela had forged a close relationship with Russia and made multi-million-dollar acquisitions of helicopters, fighter planes and Kalashnikov rifles.

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