EU parliament
© South China Morning Post
EU Parliament
Moscow slammed EU states for trying to legitimize "an attempt to usurp power" in Venezuela after a number of key European countries recognized opposition figure Juan Guaido as interim president.

"Imposing some decisions or trying to legitimize an attempt to usurp power, in our view, is both direct and indirect interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela," Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told the media on Monday, while commenting on the recognition of Guaido.

Earlier the same day, the UK, Germany, France, Spain, and several other EU states officially labeled Guaido the "legitimate" leader of Venezuela. This came after President Nicolas Maduro failed to comply with an ultimatum from these nations to declare a new election within eight days. More European countries then followed suit and recognized Guaido.

Rejecting the ultimatum, Maduro reaffirmed that the election will take place as scheduled, in 2025.

Peskov said that backing the self-proclaimed interim president simply makes a "peaceful, effective and viable" settlement of the crisis more difficult to achieve.

On Monday, Russian FM Sergei Lavrov lashed out at the EU for setting up a contact group on Venezuela and "deciding on its members." The body includes several EU and Latin American countries, but neither Russia, the US, or China were invited to join.

Meanwhile, the bloc hasn't officially recognized Guaido as interim president yet, due to internal issues. According to an RT source, Italy has announced its veto of recognition at an informal meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers in Romania. Rome had already made clear earlier that it would not back Guaido.

The opposition leader proclaimed himself interim president on January 23 and almost immediately saw a chorus of support from Washington and its allies, including Canada and several Latin American countries. The Venezuelan government slammed the move as "a coup attempt" and cautioned against any meddling or potential military action.

While tough-talking US President Donald Trump says a military option for Venezuela was among the "options," Maduro warned that Venezuela will defend itself at any cost and that the potential conflict could result in a "new Vietnam" for the US.