Tensions mount in Venezuela amid rival U.S., Russian aid shipments - VİDEO

# 21:39
20 February 2019

Oil-rich nation has become latest site in struggle between former Cold War rivals.

ONA reports citing the cbc.ca website that the Trump administration is accusing President Nicolas Maduro of starving Venezuelans by blocking tonnes of U.S.-supplied humanitarian aid stored next door in Colombia.

In Russia, the Kremlin sees the Venezuelan opposition's plan to force the aid across the border as a reckless pretext for ordering a U.S. military intervention.

As tensions in Venezuela mount ahead of a Saturday showdown over humanitarian aid, both sides are digging in, highlighting how the South American nation's crisis has become the latest fault line in a battle for global influence by the former Cold War adversaries. 

Earlier this week Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said the government will throw a concert Saturday and Sunday on Venezuela's side of the border — opposite one in Colombia being spearheaded by Richard Branson, the wealthy British adventurer and founder of the Virgin Group.

At stake is the future of Venezuela, a once oil-rich country gripped by hyperinflation and widespread shortages of food and medicine. Opposition leader Juan Guaido last month declared himself the country's rightful president, a claim backed by the U.S. and dozens of other nations that argue Maduro's re-election last year was fraudulent because most opposition candidates were barred from running.

Fate of Venezuela 'in the hands of outsiders'

Russian shipment of medicine and medical equipment had arrived in Venezuela. The reports did not give the size of the shipment or say what it contained, though they cited a diplomatic source as saying the delivery was made under the aegis of the World Health Organization.

Hours earlier Maduro had said approximately 272 tonnes of medicine and other aid was on its way from Russia. 

Carlos Romero, an international affairs professor at the Central University of Venezuela, said that Russia's support for Maduro is more symbolic than consequential when compared to the intense pressure against the government being exerted by the U.S. in what he called "Washington's backyard."