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US caused billions of dollars in damage to Venezuela since 2013 – Russian envoy to UN

US caused billions of dollars in damage to Venezuela since 2013 – Russian envoy to UN
Russia's ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia has accused the US of causing "billions of dollars" of damage to Venezuela ​since 2013 and said Washington "artificially provoked" a crisis to overthrow the legitimate government.

Speaking at a UN Security Council meeting on Venezuela on Wednesday, Nebenzia said the Trump administration was "picking the pockets" of the country while at the same time calling "for urgent assistance to the Venezuelan people."

The comments come as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suspended Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's access to nearly €400 million ($451mn) in cash, citing the chaos which has unfolded since opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself rightful president in January.

It is not clear whether the IMF will formally recognize Guaido, but an economic advisor for the opposition leader told Bloomberg that the IMF was safeguarding the funds and they would be available again when Maduro's "usurpation" ends.

Nebenzia called for diplomatic solutions to the Venezuelan crisis, rather than regime change. Referring to other US regime change operations, he said it was "precisely as a result of Western intervention" that the "true suffering" is happening in countries like Syria.

He also addressed representatives from other Latin American countries, some of which have supported the US's regime change efforts, asking them "Haven't you learned anything from history?" adding that to the US, Venezuela only a "bargaining chip" in its geopolitical games.

"If you want to make America great again, and we're all sincerely interested in seeing that, stop interfering in the affairs of other states," he said.

Meanwhile, US Vice President Mike Pence called on the body to revoke the UN credentials of Maduro's government and to recognize unelected opposition leader Guaido as the country's legitimate head.

Pence said Washington plans to present a draft resolution to the Security Council aimed at having Guaido recognized and his represenative appointed as the country's ambassador to the international body.

Venezuela’s communications and information minister said in March that more than $30 billion was illegally diverted from Venezuela over just two months, with around $1 billion in stolen funds being transferred to personal accounts of opposition leaders. Venezuela has also accused Washington of stealing €5 billion in funds that had been allocated for medicine production.

The former UN rapporteur to Venezuela told RT in January that there is a“direct nexus” between the US’ tightening sanctions and the deaths of ordinary people.

“Why is there death? There’s malnutrition, there’s lack of medicine. If you need insulin, and you don’t get it? You die. You need anti-retroviral drugs. You don’t get them? You die. That has happened,” he said.

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