UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council failed to agree Thursday on either a U.S. or Russian proposal to find a way forward on the Venezuelan crisis.
The 15-nation council voted on two draft resolutions. The U.S. text had the support of the majority of the council members but was blocked by Russia and China, while a Russian draft garnered only four positive votes.
The U.S. text stressed the need to "prevent further deterioration" of the humanitarian situation and to allow unhindered access for the delivery of aid throughout the country.
The government of disputed President Nicolas Maduro has refused to recognize that there is a humanitarian crisis in the country and is not permitting aid from the United States to enter the country, saying it is a pretext for a U.S. military invasion.
The American draft also expressed "deep concern" that the May 2018 presidential elections that gave the incumbent Maduro a second six-year term were "neither free nor fair" and called for a political process leading to new elections. It also showed support for the "peaceful" restoration of democracy and rule of law.
"Regrettably, by voting against this resolution, some members of this council continue to shield Maduro and his cronies, and prolong the suffering of the Venezuelan people," said U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams.
"Regardless of the results of today's vote, this resolution shows that democracies around the world, and especially in Latin America, are mobilizing behind interim President [Juan] Guaido," he said of the National Assembly leader who declared himself interim president Jan. 23.
The Russian resolution called for a peaceful settlement of the conflict, but added that Maduro needed to approve aid deliveries. The Russian text also expressed "concern over the threats to use force" against Venezuela.
Moscow's envoy said Washington's proposal was an effort to "escalate tensions and to implement their scenario for an unconstitutional change of government." Vassily Nebenzia warned that the focus on the humanitarian situation was merely "a smoke screen."
"We are seriously concerned at the fact that today's meeting may be exploited as a step for preparations of a real — not humanitarian —intervention as a pretext for external intervention as a result of the alleged inability of the Security Council to resolve the situation in Venezuela," Nebenzia said.
Last Saturday, troops and Maduro supporters blocked the entry of trucks carrying food and medical supplies in violent clashes at Venezuela's borders with Colombia and Brazil. Four people were killed, and dozens were injured.
Venezuela's U.N. envoy said that Saturday's violence was an "international incident," not a domestic one, and he asserted that all was well in his country.
"Venezuela today is completely at peace, a peace preserved by the constitutional government of President Nicolas Maduro, who is in full exercise of his legal powers and who guarantees the protection of national territory, as well as the well-being of the Venezuelan people and effective control over the country," Ambassador Samuel Moncada said. "Let me repeat: There is no type of violence in Venezuela. If there are threats against peace, those threats come from abroad."