Venezuela Military Backs Maduro, as Russia Warns U.S. Not to Intervene

Venezuela Military Backs Maduro, as Russia Warns U.S. Not to Intervene

The foreign minister said that Russia was ready to join with other “responsible countries” to start a national dialogue among Venezuelans while avoiding calls to overthrow the legitimate government.

As recently as December, Russia dispatched a small group of aircraft to Venezuela in a show of solidarity with Mr. Maduro, including two Tu-160 nuclear-capable bombers that flew more than 6,000 miles.

More important, it has given Venezuela more than $10 billion in financial assistance in recent years. In exchange, Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, has acquired stakes in Venezuela’s energy sector.

Venezuela has also been one of the largest markets for Russian arms exports in Latin America. It signed 30 contracts worth $11 billion from 2005 to 2013, according to the Russian news agency Tass.

Mr. Peskov declined to discuss what might happen to the loans should the Maduro government fall, and would not speculate whether Russia might offer him asylum, emphasizing that in the Kremlin’s view, he remained the legitimate president of Venezuela.

China, another critical foreign partner of Mr. Maduro, has been largely silent about the Venezuela crisis in recent days. It has been a supporter of the leftist government in Venezuela since Mr. Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez, first came to power, and both leaders were feted in visits to Beijing. The relationship has been undergirded by China’s growing appetite for oil, partly paid for with tens of billions of dollars in loans to Venezuela.

By 2015, China’s loans to Venezuela had grown to $65 billion, a Chinese Ministry of Commerce researcher said that year.

But China’s enthusiasm for Venezuela has dimmed in recent years as the Venezuelan economy has staggered. In 2016, China agreed to relax conditions on Venezuela’s payments in an oil-for-loans agreement. When Mr. Maduro visited China last year, reports indicated that his wishes for a big injection of Chinese loans were not granted.

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