Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez and Foreign Minister Félix Plasencia met on Thursday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Turkey, in the midst of the crisis over the invasion of Ukraine. The meeting, of whose conversations no information has yet emerged, takes place just four days after a US delegation visited Venezuela to start an unexpected rapprochement between Washington and Caracas, without diplomatic relations for three years and with strong tension over the sanctions imposed on the oil country.
Both Nicolás Maduro and the White House confirmed Monday the start of talks — last weekend — in what has been the highest-level visit by US officials to Caracas in years. The Bolivarian leader described them as respectful and reduced in his speech the unrestricted support for Vladimir Putin in the conflict, taking a more moderate position, close to that of China and Cuba, which advocate dialogue to resolve the crisis between Russia and Ukraine.
As part of this shift in Venezuelan foreign policy, Delcy Rodríguez assured that Venezuela “would never be in the ranks of the war.” After the meeting with the representatives of the Joe Biden Administration, Maduro announced the return to negotiations with the opposition in Mexico, a repeated request from the United States. The dialogue had been frozen since last October, when Chavismo withdrew in protest at the extradition to the United States of businessman Alex Saab, accused of money laundering and designated as the alleged front man for high-ranking Venezuelan officials. Caracas also released two Americans, one of them a former manager of the Citgo refinery, arbitrarily detained for several years. Two steps that show Maduro’s interest in keeping the channel of communication open by making some concessions.
The United States goes to Venezuela in the midst of the collapse of the world energy market as a result of the Russian invasion, which has triggered oil prices. The White House noted that “energy security” issues were included on the meeting’s agenda. This opens the possibility for Venezuela to once again become a supplier of crude oil for the North American nation, taking the small quota contributed by Russia, whose oil has been vetoed by the United States and the United Kingdom. Until now, Russia has not reacted publicly to these approaches, which represent a shift in the geopolitics of the region and the conflict.
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