Nicolás Maduro. Picture: REUTERS
Nicolás Maduro. Picture: REUTERS

Moscow — Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that Moscow is alarmed by US talk of some kind of possible US military option for Venezuela and accused Washington of leaning on the opposition there to block talks with the government.

Lavrov, addressing his annual news conference, said the US approach to Venezuela showed US efforts to try to undermine governments around the world it doesn’t like were continuing.

US President Donald Trump’s administration has indicated its support for an opposition leader, ratcheting up pressure on Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolás Maduro as he embarks on a disputed second term.

In 2017, Trump said he didn’t rule out a “military option” to put an end to what he regards as economic chaos in Venezuela, a close Russian ally, in comments that brought widespread condemnation. The US has also criticised Moscow for launching military flights to Venezuela, rebukes the Kremlin has rejected.

Venezuela’s opposition-run Congress this week declared Maduro a “usurper” as Washington weighed recognising the leader of the Congress, Juan Guaidó, as the country’s legitimate president, two people familiar with the matter said.

On Wednesday, Pompeo  said the US, which has already imposed sanctions on Maduro and a number of his top allies, backed the opposition’s action.

“We congratulate, recognise & support the courage of #Venezuela’s National Assembly to formally declare #Maduro a ‘usurper’ of democracy & to transfer executive responsibilities to the National Assembly,” Pompeo wrote on Twitter.

Over the weekend, Pompeo called Maduro’s government illegitimate and said the US would work with like-minded countries in Latin America to restore democracy in Venezuela.