A Russian spokesperson warned on Thursday of a persistent risk of an armed conflict in Venezuela and underscored her country's willingness to join a mediation process to solve the crisis.
The latest chapter in the Venezuela crisis began Jan. 23, when Juan Guaidó, a Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position was canceled by the country’s Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country’s capital of Caracas.
"Unfortunately, we cannot state that the risk of widespread armed conflict (in Venezuela) is long past, as all options remain on the table," Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said during the ministry's weekly briefing in Moscow.
She denied Russia was considering evacuating its diplomatic staff, families and other Russian nationals working in Russian companies established in Venezuela.
"We are not talking about the evacuation of either Russian diplomats, their families, Russian citizens, or employees of overseas agencies and companies, this I can confirm," Zakharova said.
The Russian diplomat underscored her country's readiness to "join any mediation or consultation mechanisms which may be acceptable to all Venezuelan parties," she said. "We welcome the willingness of Venezuelan president (Nicolás Maduro) to accept these international efforts."
Zakharova insisted that Moscow considered the diplomatic avenues to solve the "extremely complex" Venezuelan crisis had not been exhausted yet.
"We understand this standpoint is shared by other countries in the region, of which some have already expressed the need to urgently convene an international conference," Zakharova said in reference to an initiative launched by Mexico and Uruguay.
On the other hand, the Russian spokesperson denounced the opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, as "openly inciting the Venezuelan armed forces to help organize a military coup d'etat."
She said that Russia was aware of how foreign sponsors of the Venezuelan opposition were publicly supporting this behavior and noted that apparently "there are no limits for Washington."
She warned that the sanctions and measures proposed by the United States for the Venezuelan oil sector were a "direct pathway to catastrophe, including the environment."
Zakharova added that "this catastrophe could provoke unrepairable damage to lives and the development of other regional countries in the region."
According to Zakharova, US actions against (Venezuelan) petroleum products reminded her of a "diversion, insurgency, taking place not only in the political and geopolitical dimension but also damaging the environment of all the entire region."
Russian oil company Rosneft said in its annual report that it was “one of the largest international investors in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”
Rosneft CEO, Igor Sechin, estimated that his company had invested some $7 billion in Venezuela, largely through loans to be repaid in future crude deliveries.