Russia, China halt US effort at UN to push for new Venezuelan...

Russia, China halt US effort at UN to push for new Venezuelan elections

By Luke Vargas   
Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vassily Nebenzia vetoes a U.S.-drafted resolution on Venezuela. February 28, 2019. UN Photo/Joey Felipe.
Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vasily Nebenzya vetoes a U.S.-drafted resolution on Venezuela on Thursday. (Joey Felipe/UN) Voting Russia signals NO

Russia's U.N. ambassador accused the American resolution of advocating for the "unconstitutional ouster of the government."

UNITED NATIONS — Russia and China blocked a U.S. effort at the U.N. Security Council on Thursday to call for new elections in Venezuela.

The U.S.-drafted resolution endorsed a “peaceful political process leading to free, fair and credible presidential elections,” and called for “unhindered access and delivery of assistance to all in need in the entirety of the territory of Venezuela.”

Opposition figure and self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó has won the backing of the U.S. and a number of countries across Latin America and Europe, but lacks backing from any of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s closest allies, including Russia, Cuba and China.

Unsurprisingly, Russia and China sunk the U.S. resolution with their vetoes, despite the resolution earning the support of nine of the council’s 15 members

Speaking after the vote, U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams criticized those who blocked a  resolution that he said marked an earnest attempt to ease humanitarian suffering and push Venezuela toward democracy.

“Regrettably, by voting against this resolution some members of this council continue to shield Maduro and his cronies and prolong the suffering of the Venezuelan people.”

But Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vasily Nebenzya saw the resolution in starkly different terms, saying the U.S. had turned the Security Council into a “theater of the absurd” by floating a resolution he claimed sought an “unconstitutional ouster of the government.”

Britain’s U.N. representative, Karen Pierce, accused Nebenzya of falsely characterizing the U.S. draft, which she said, “did not seek a permanent transfer of power to a different leader.”

“We believe that the Maduro presidency is illegitimate and the National Assembly President Juan Guaidó is constitutionally interim president of Venezuela until free and fair elections can be held,” she added.

A counter-resolution drafted by Russia referenced the need to find a “political solution” to the country’s political turmoil, but said nothing of new elections, and instead played up the risk of foreign interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs. That resolution received just four votes of support, compared to seven against and four abstentions.

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