Senior American officials traveled to Venezuela to try and drive a wedge between Venezuela and its longtime ally Russia.
The New York Times reported that this trip is the highest-level visit to Venezuela by American officials since 2019.
In 2019, the United States broke off diplomatic relations with the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro due to allegations of electoral fraud. The Trump administration closed the American embassy in Venezuela and issued sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports and senior members of the country’s government.
The Trump administration also moved to officially recognize the leader of Maduro’s opposition — Juan Guaido — as the lawful president of Venezuela. In a direct slight to the Maduro regime, Trump hosted Guaido at the 2020 State of the Union Address.
WATCH: Trump praises Venezuela’s Juan Guaidó at the State of the Union | 2020 State of the Union youtu.be
In response to American sanctions, Venezuela sought economic relief and diplomatic assistance from its counterparts in Russia, Iran, and China.
Russian energy companies have played a crucial role in allowing Venezuela to continue exporting oil throughout the world.
With Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine, the Biden administration is paying closer to attention to the allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin in South and Latin America. The Biden administration is concerned that Putin could leverage these relationships in ways that pose a threat to U.S. safety.
As sanctions from Western allies weaken the Russian economy, American leadership is lunging at opportunities to drive a wedge between Russia and its allies who rely on it for economic support.
The New York Times alleged that there is bipartisan support for reestablishing diplomatic relations with Venezuela in an effort to undermine Russia.
Scott Taylor, a former Republican congressman from Virginia, works alongside pro-Venezuelan lobbyists and said, “We should take this opportunity to achieve a diplomatic win and a wedge between Russia and Venezuela.”
Trish Reagan, a former Fox Business host, said, “Venezuela has the largest source of oil reserves yet, we’re handing that to the Chinese and Russians.”
In the past month, prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Nicolas Maduro spoke with Putin by telephone and has hosted Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Yuri Borisov.
Maduro appears to be open to discussing re-establishing trade relations with the United States.
In a public speech he delivered this past week, Maduro said, “Here lies the oil of Venezuela, which is available for whomever wants to produce and buy it, be it an investor from Asia, Europe, or the United States.”
This past week, Venezuelan diplomats at the United Nations did not vote to condemn Russian aggression in Ukraine.