Russia ‘has begun to doubt whether Maduro can cling to power in Venezuela due to the country’s disastrous economy and military turning against him’

Russia is losing its faith in Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s ability to emerge victorious from the political crisis gripping the country, Kremlin sources say. Moscow still publicly backs Maduro’s regime but ‘recognizes that the disastrous state of Venezuela’s economy is inexorably draining what remains of his public support’.  The unidentified sources also pointed out that the army, part of which is currently deployed to block an aid shipment of food and medicine from entering the country from Colombia, will be reluctant to continue crack downs on fellow Venezuelans.   This comes as Venezuelan army continues its blockage of a bridge on the border with Colombia ahead of an anticipated humanitarian aid dispatch.  Maduro claims humanitarian aid is a forerunner of a US-led invasion, and defended his decision to order a barricade of the bridge by saying that ‘no one will enter, not one invading soldier.’  Opposition leader Juan Guaido, now recognised as interim president by the West and the US, claims that up to 300,000 people face death if the aid being blocked by Maduro’s army is not delivered.  The opposition-dominated National Assembly, led by presidential challenger Guaido, had warned the armed forces that blocking aid would mean crossing a ‘red line’. ‘You know there’s a red line, you know well there’s a limit, you know that medicines, food and medical supplies are that limit,’ lawmaker Miguel Pizarro said in a message to the military. Venezuelan military officers used a tanker truck and huge shipping container to block access to the Tienditas bridge, which links Cucuta, Colombia to Urena, Venezuela. Franklyn Duarte, an opposition lawmaker from the border state of Tachira, told AFP that troops from the armed forces were blocking the crossing. The aid delivery was being coordinated by Guaido, who has declared himself interim president of the oil-rich country and now enjoys the backing of some 40 countries as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. Maduro, 56, has repeatedly accused the United States of fomenting a coup.  His blockage of food, medicine and necessities to hundreds of thousands of starving Venezuelans came as weapons were discovered in cargo which the government claims was sent from Florida.  The weapons, including  19 rifles and high-calibre ammunition, were found at an airport in the city of Valencia, having been transported on an Airbus jet that flew in on Sunday, the Interior Ministry wrote on Twitter. It is not known who the intended recipient of the weapons was.  The US, which has not ruled out a military intervention in crisis-wracked Venezuela, was the first to recognize him as acting president, followed by a dozen Latin American countries. In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Donald Trump reaffirmed US support for Guaido, saying ‘we stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom.’ Britain, France, Germany and Spain were among 20 EU nations to side with Guaido this week after Maduro ignored their demands that he announce new presidential elections by February 3. Guaido is trying to force Maduro from power, set up a transitional government and hold a new presidential poll.