Moscow has condemned foreign powers for backing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó who declared himself interim president, calling it a bid to “usurp power”.
Russia said that the move violated international law and was a “direct path to bloodshed”.
On January 23, Juan Guaidó declared himself interim leader – a move recognized by the US and several other nations.
Meanwhile, President Nicolás Maduro, who retains some other nations’ support, broke off relations with the US in response.
Nicolas Maduro has been in office since 2013. He was sworn in for a second term earlier this month, after winning a May 2018 election marred by an opposition boycott and widespread claims of vote-rigging.
President Nicolas Maduro’s Istanbul Lunch Sparks Outrage in VenezuelaJuan Guaidó is the head of the National Assembly, who has said articles within Venezuela’s constitution allow him to assume interim power because he believes Nicolas Maduro’s election, and therefore presidency, is invalid.
The opposition leader has vowed to lead a transitional government and hold free elections.
President Donald Trump recognized Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s new head of state minutes after his declaration in the capital, Caracas, on January 23.
President Trump urged other nations to follow suit – but the move has divided much of the international community.
Seven South American nations, as well as Canada and the UK, have now backed President Trump’s call.
The EU has stopped short of recognition, but called for “free and credible elections” and said Juan Guaidó’s freedom and safety should be respected.
Mexico, Bolivia and Cuba all expressed support for Nicolas Maduro, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted: “My brother Maduro! Stand tall, we are standing by you.”
China, a major investor in Venezuela, said it opposed any outside interference.
Russia sees Venezuela as one of its closest allies in the region. It has lent billions of dollars and has backed its oil industry and its military. Russia has also taken part in military exercises in Venezuela.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We consider the attempt to usurp sovereign authority in Venezuela to contradict and violate the basis and principles of international law.
“Maduro is the legitimate head of state.”
A Russian foreign ministry statement said Juan Guaidó’s declaration was a “direct path to lawlessness and bloodshed”, adding: “Only Venezuelans have the right to determine their future.
“Destructive outside interference, especially in the current extremely tense situation, is unacceptable.”
Russia also warned that any US military interference would amount to “adventurism which is fraught with catastrophic consequences”.