Russia, China veto US push for UN action on Venezuela

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ISTANBUL
Published 28.02.2019 23:49
Updated 01.03.2019 00:05
Members of the U.N. Security Council vote to approve a U.S. draft resolution calling for free and fair presidential elections in Venezuela at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., February 28, 2019. (Reuters Photo)
Members of the U.N. Security Council vote to approve a U.S. draft resolution calling for free and fair presidential elections in Venezuela at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., February 28, 2019. (Reuters Photo)

Russia and China vetoed on Thursday a U.S. push for the United Nations Security Council to call for free and fair presidential elections in Venezuela and unhindered aid access.

The U.S. draft resolution garnered the minimum nine votes, forcing Russia and China to cast vetoes. South Africa also voted against the text, while Indonesia, Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast abstained.

A Russian resolution expressing concern over threats to use force against Venezuela was also voted down, receiving only four votes in the U.N. Security Council.

The United States has led a campaign for international recognition of Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader and head of the country's elected National Assembly, over President Nicholas Maduro. Guaido last month declared himself the interim head of state.

"We are seriously concerned about the fact that today's meeting may be exploited as a step for preparations of a real, not humanitarian, intervention... as a result of the alleged inability of the Security Council to resolve the situation in Venezuela," Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said all options are on the table in dealing with Venezuela, although U.S. special envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, has denied Russian accusations that Washington is preparing to intervene militarily.

Ahead of the Security Council vote on Thursday, French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre, in support of the U.S.-drafted resolution, said it "does not represent a legal basis for a use of force, nor an attempt to undermine the sovereignty of Venezuela."

"The Venezuelan affairs should be decided by the Venezuelan people," China's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Wu Haitao said.

The United States targeted Venezuela's government with new sanctions on Monday and called on allies to freeze the assets of state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) after deadly violence blocked humanitarian aid from reaching the country over the weekend.

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