Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (FRANCE) - On February 28, a draft U.S. UN Security Council resolution was vetoed by China and Russia with South Africa also voting no, and abstentions by Indonesia, Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea. Russia's draft resolution also failed with four in favor, seven against and four abstentions.

At the same time the President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro has ordered the closure of the European office of the national oil and gas company PDVSA in Lisbon and its relocationto Moscow, Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said on Friday at a press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Rodriguez is also head of the Venezuelan secret service (SEBIN). "President Nicolas Maduro instructed the Lisbon branch of PDVSA to close this office and relocate it to Moscow," she said.

Relocation of the European office of the national oil and gas company from Lisbon to Moscow is taking place within the framework of broadening cooperation betweenRussian oil giant Rosneft and Gazprom, the Vice President pointed out. "This is done in line with our plans to expand technical cooperation in the oil production area with Rosneft, with Gazprom. The moment now is the most suitable to do so. We are changing the format of our relations," Rodriguez said.

The U.S. Security Council draft stressed the need to prevent further deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Venezuela and to facilitate unhindered access and delivery of assistance to all in need in the entirety of the territory of Venezuela in accordance with humanitarian principles.

The Russian draft, on the contrary, calls for international assistance to be provided with the consent of, and on the basis of an appeal by, the government of Venezuela. It also urges the settlement of the current situation through peaceful means and supports all initiatives aimed at reaching a political solution among Venezuelans.Vassily Nebenzia, Russia's permanent representative to the UN, said that Russia feared that the meeting "might be exploited as a step for towards a real, not humanitarian, intervention".

Wu Haitao, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN said"At the Security Council, on the Venezuelan issue, our starting point is to uphold the spirit of the UN Charter and the basic principles governing international relations, promote a peaceful settlement of the Venezuelan issue and maintain long-term peace, stability and development in Latin America".China opposes external forces interfering in Venezuela internal affairs and opposes military intervention in Venezuela, he stressed.

Venezuela has been plunged into a political crisis since Jan. 23 when National Assembly President Juan Guaido declared himself interim president and was immediately recognized by the United States and its allies.

A U.S.-backed drive to deliver "humanitarian aid" to Venezuela through border crossings on Feb. 23 met strong resistance from the Venezuelan government as President Nicolas Maduro believed the aid, mainly from the United States, was a smokescreen for a military invasion as has happened in the past in Latin America.

The Venezuelan government has closed its borders with Brazil and Colombia and some air and sea routes. It has broken off diplomatic relations with Columbia.

The US attempt to use aid to intervene in Venezuela has failed for the moment and the move of the PDVSA office to Moscow and the strong support for Venezuela at the UN Security Council indicates that regime change is not inevitable even in the backyard of the United States.However, no one is in any doubt that the US will return to the attack in due course.

The support of the South Africa for the Russian position is important and reflects dissatisfaction throughout Africa for what is regarded as the neo-colonial attitude of the US.

The move of the PDVSA office is yet another reminder that action by the European Union member states acting in lock step with the US,however dubious their actions,comes at a price.

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