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Cold war-like tensions escalate as world power take sides in Venezuela

E mbattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he was willing to negotiate on Wednesday in an interview with a Russian television program. Maduro said on RIA Novosti, "so we can talk for the good of Venezuela, for peace and its future."

His words, however, were not all forward-looking and optimistic. Indeed, in the same interview, he accused President Trump of plotting to have him killed, although he gave no evidence to support the claim.

Russia thus took advantage of its ties to Caracas to push back on what it likely sees as the heavy-handed U.S. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: "We call on the opposition to refuse ultimatums and to work together, guided by the interest of Venezuelan people."

China, which like Russia has investments tied up in Venezuela, so has criticized US involvement. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang warned, "We believe that Venezuela's affairs must and can only be chosen and determined by its own people, and we oppose unilateral sanctions." He added, "China wants to continue to advance across-the-board cooperation with Venezuela to deliver more benefits to people in both countries."

In the United States, President Trump made clear that U.S. Support for opposition leader Juan Guaido was not going away. Maduro on Monday, tweeting:

Guido, the subtext for Maduro's calls for international mediation. Any successful talks would require cooperation from both sides and their international backers.

Should these negotiations be successful, paving the way for new elections, a peaceful transition, and setting Venezuela on the path of recovery, that would be a tremendous victory for diplomacy and demonstrate that the world is not yet so polarized that world powers can not work together to solve regional crises.

The other possibility, of course, is that in the United States – or something worse. Given the billions of dollars in lost investments, competing interests in Venezuela's vast oil reserves, and the lure of a foothold in Latin America for Russia and China, that's not an unlikely outcome.

The Cold War-style tensions.

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