LatinNews Daily - 19 April 2023

VENEZUELA: Russia pledges help to circumvent sanctions

On 18 April, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Russian government would help Venezuela to circumvent US sanctions.


Lavrov’s five-day Latin American tour had got underway the previous day in Brazil, triggering a rebuke of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s government from the US. The Russian diplomat is now back among more traditional allies as he aims to bolster ties with Russia’s main friends in the region – Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. The offer to help President Nicolás Maduro’s government mitigate the impact of sanctions further reduces the already slim possibility that the Venezuelan government will agree to political reforms in return for a lifting of sanctions.

  • Pledging Russian cooperation to alleviate the impact of international sanctions on Venezuela, Lavrov said that “we will work to make the economy of Venezuela less and less dependent on whims and geopolitical games of the US or other players from the Western camp". He added that Russia is “the world champion in terms of sanctions imposed, and we are gaining experience quickly, so we are going to share it with our Venezuelan colleagues."
  • Venezuela’s foreign minister, Yván Gil, said that the Russian and Venezuelan central banks are working to create a new system to operate in parallel to the SWIFT messaging network that is used globally to convey instructions on financial transactions. Russian banks were expelled from SWIFT last year following the invasion of Ukraine. This new system, Gil said, “will free us from the hegemony of the dollar in the regulation of commercial transactions”.
  • Lavrov said that the Venezuelan and Russian governments are planning to bolster cooperation in oil production, the development of gas fields, agriculture, medicine, pharmaceuticals, communications, space, and new technologies.
  • President Maduro tweeted that he and Lavrov had held a meeting to “strengthen bilateral relations and joint cooperation in various areas of our nations’ development”.
  • Lavrov also met Bolivia’s Foreign Minister Rogelio Mayta while he was in Caracas and invited President Luis Arce to travel to Moscow. Arce has retained friendly ties with President Vladimir Putin, holding a telephone call with him on 17 March – the same day that the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader.

Looking Ahead: Lavrov will travel to Nicaragua today (19 April) for the next leg of his Latin American tour, which will conclude in Cuba on 21 April.

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