Mexico City, Mexico, April 18, 2023 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yván Gil welcomed his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Caracas on Tuesday where the pair announced efforts to work on joint projects in oil production, agriculture, medicine, and space exploration.
“We are going to continue working to strengthen relations between the Russian Federation and Venezuela, two strategic partners," said Gil during a press conference.
Lavrov, for his part, said that Venezuela was among Russia’s “most reliable partners.”
The Russian foreign minister is currently on a multi-country tour in the region, having first visited Brazil. He is expected to later visit Nicaragua and Cuba.
Gil said that the pair reviewed and renewed bilateral and cooperation agreements between the two countries, stating that to date over 300 such agreements had been signed.
"Our relations have been put to the test by different types of crises, pressure attempts from abroad and, despite everything, they are developing successfully and will continue to develop regardless of the political situation," said Lavrov.
The two countries have sought closer ties since the arrival of the late Hugo Chávez to the presidency in 1999, a process that has continued under the leadership of President Nicolás Maduro, as Venezuela works to break free of US dominance. With both countries targeted by US sanctions in recent years, Venezuela and Russia have built increasingly closer relations, with the latter providing a critical lifeline in the wake of the US oil embargo.
During his address to the press, Gil recalled that his country would not agree to the normalization of relations with the US until all sanctions were lifted against Venezuela. Venezuela has been under a wide-reaching sanctions regime first imposed by former US President Donald Trump and largely kept in place by his successor Joe Biden.
The Venezuelan foreign minister added that the pair discussed means of moving away from the dominance of the US dollar. Gil stated that there are working plans to develop an alternative to the SWIFT platform, the financial messaging platform that facilitates the movement of money internationally. SWIFT is for all intents and purposes controlled by Washington, which has banned both Russia and Venezuela from using the system, creating barriers for both countries to engage in international commerce.
The US oil embargo and the exclusion of Venezuela from the SWIFT platform has forced the country to resort to intermediaries to place its oil on the international market, which has led to significant lost revenue.
Lavrov said that he discussed with his counterpart practical measures to expand trade. Caracas and Moscow recently announced that they would develop a new shipping route between the two countries to facilitate trade.
The foreign policy officials also spoke of their support for the Group of Friends in Defense of the United Nations Charter, an initiative spearheaded by Venezuela that seeks to promote diplomacy and multilateralism over the use of force and unilateralism. The Group of Friends currently counts on 20 members, including Russia.
"Our task is to ensure that the UN Charter is applied in its entirety, that the right to self-determination is not taken away when it suits the West," said Lavrov.
Gil said that US efforts to maintain its hegemony via armed conflict had only led to more “chaos” in the world and spoke highly of the emergence of a new “multipolar” world, a view shared by Lavrov.
"I am sure that this process of the formation of a multipolar world is gaining momentum, it will lead to successful and positive results for the majority of humanity, even if the West does not want to take part,” said Lavrov.
Maduro has likewise previously spoken in favor of this idea of a “multipolar” world, warning that a multifaceted campaign by Western countries to isolate Russia was aimed at destroying the country in order to deter its development.
Lavrov subsequently held meetings with Venezuelan Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez and with President Maduro.
Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas.