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Putin Expresses Support To Visiting Venezuelan Leader

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro outside Moscow on December 5.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced his support for his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, who traveled to Moscow amid a spiraling economic crisis in the Latin American country.

Moscow is aware the "situation in Venezuela remains dire," Putin told Maduro before the start of their talks on December 5, adding that he supports the Venezuelan president’s efforts to "achieve understanding in society" and talks with the opposition.

The Russian leader also made a point to condemn "any attempts to change the situation by force."

Oil-rich Venezuela has been racked by economic and political crisis since 2010 under leftist leader Hugo Chavez and has continued into Maduro's presidency.

Putin emphasized that Russia's economic ties with Venezuela have gone through "very complicated times" in recent years.

"We have been able to overcome this negative trend, and this year we are observing certain growth," he added.

Maduro replied with optimism, saying "everything that comes next will be for the best."

Russia came to Venezuela's rescue last year with a debt restructuring deal after the country was driven to the verge of default by falling oil prices and tough sanctions imposed by the United States.

Millions have fled the country, driven by violence, hyperinflation, and major shortages of food. Last week the United Nations announced emergency funding for health and nutrition projects.

Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and AFP