Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Dealing With Russia in Venezuela

An analyst at a conservative think tank argues that Vladimir Putin is using the same strategy in Venezuela as he did in Syria, propping up a regime for his and Russia's benefit. Fair enough, but what to do?

The U.S. must therefore keep close watch of Putin’s hand in Caracas and push back against a Russian attempt to turn Maduro’s desperation into Russia’s advantage. To this end, the Trump administration should continue to vigorously enforce its already robust sanctions campaign and make clear, both through private and public channels, that it stands steadfast in support of the elected president, Juan Guaido, and true democracy in Venezuela.
Hmm. The sanctions have actually worked to Russia's benefit because they required Nicolás Maduro to turn more fully to Putin, including paying debt in rubles. Therefore it makes no sense to deepen that relationship. Sanctions are not "pushing back against" Russia; they are "pushing Maduro toward" Russia.

Instead, the U.S. should throw its support behind negotiations, as difficult and uncertain as those are. Putin does not want any political change in Venezuela because he knows the opposition does not like Russia's presence. Negotiated political change is bad for Russia's interests, and therefore should be the U.S. strategy if going against Russia's interests is the goal.


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