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Russian defence minister assures Venezuela of help against US

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu expressed support on Thursday for Venezuela's efforts to counter "attempts by the United States to change the legally elected government."

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu expressed support on Thursday for Venezuela’s efforts to counter “attempts by the United States to change the legally elected government.”

Shoigu made the comment at a meeting with Venezuelan counterpart Vladimir Padrino Lopez in Moscow, according to excerpts of their conversation carried by the Russian state news agency TASS.

“We support the efforts of the republic’s government aimed at carrying out an independent foreign policy and fighting the attempts by the US to change the legally elected government,” Shoigu was quoted as saying.

Russia is one of the crisis-hit Venezuelan government’s strongest backers, having provided billions of dollars in credit to the South American country in recent years.

Amid food and medicine shortages, Venezuela’s oil-dependent economy has teetered on the verge of collapse, inciting mass protests against President Nicolas Maduro.

The United States has condemned Maduro and backs his political rival, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim president.

Russian defence specialists have conducted at least two publicized visits to Venezuela this year as the countries maintain close military ties.

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