US-run border ‘provocation’ to topple Maduro set for February 23, Moscow warns

Friday, February 22, 2019
By Paul Martin
22 Feb, 2019

Moscow has warned that a “provocation” intended to topple Nicolas Maduro is set for this Saturday, which will involve a US-run aid convoy that could spark border clashes between government and opposition forces.

Crisis-plagued Venezuela is now on the brink of sliding into all-out turmoil, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters on Friday, warning that Saturday would be crucial for President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

“A dangerous large-scale provocation is scheduled for February 23

The US-run “provocation” may take shape of an aid convoy crossing the Venezuelan border and provoking clashes between “supporters and opponents of the current government,” Zakharova explained.

Such an incident could provide an opening for “a coercive action” to oust Maduro from power. The remark comes just days after the Venezuelan president closed the border with Brazil amid a row over humanitarian aid.

He indicated that he could also close the key border with Colombia to stop the opposition from using relief as an advantage to gain popular support. An aid convoy that tried to penetrate the border earlier on Friday was led by the self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaido.

Separately, the US is preparing a sizeable weapons shipment for the Venezuelan opposition, according to Zakharova. The armaments, likely to be purchased “in an eastern European country,” are large-caliber machine guns, grenade launchers, assault rifles and man-portable anti-aircraft rocket systems.

“The cargo is set to arrive in Venezuela in early March through a neighboring country on aircraft flown by an international shipping company,” she said.

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