Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday reiterated his support for his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro over the opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaido.
Putin also said that dialogue with opposition forces in the Latin American country must continue.
“No doubt we support the dialogue that you, President, and your government are having with the opposition forces,” Putin added.
“We believe that any refusal to have dialogue is irrational, harms the country, and only threatens the population’s well-being.”
While Putin praised cooperation between the two countries, there were no plans to sign any new deals during Maduro’s visit, the Kremlin has said.
Putin pointed to growing trade turnover which included agricultural supplies to Venezuela where a quarter of the 30-million-strong population is in need of humanitarian aid.
Russia plans to send up to 600,000 tonnes of grain to the crisis-stricken country this year, up from 254,000 tonnes last year, according to authorities.
Russia is the second-largest lender to Caracas after China, with Moscow heavily investing in Venezuela’s oil resources and Caracas acquiring Russian arms worth billions of dollars.
But Venezuela’s economic collapse has dealt a blow to bilateral ties and Moscow has not provided any fresh loans to Caracas over the past few years.
The Venezuelan president has not only sought – and received – Putin’s political support, but also his economic backing in the face of US sanctions against top government leaders and the state oil company PDVSA, the country’s main source of income.
Maduro said that after the last high-level intergovernmental commission between Russia and Venezuela “many issues have been successfully addressed.”
In April, the two countries signed 11 agreements.
Russia and Venezuela have in the last 18 years signed about 260 cooperation agreements in mining, oil, economic, energy, food and military matters.
Putin’s spokesman said on the eve of the meeting that the two leaders would also discuss “direct meddling in Latin American affairs by third parties”.
The Venezuelan leader last visited Moscow for talks with Putin in December.
Russia and Venezuela enjoy a long history of ties and Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez, known for his passionate tirades against the United States, was a welcome guest at the Kremlin.
Putin also reaffirmed his country’s commitment to technical-military cooperation with Venezuela – the largest buyer of Russian weapons and military equipment in Latin America – particularly when it comes to the supply of spare parts and maintenance of the materials acquired by Caracas.