BRASILIA: Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Bolivia was on the brink of chaos and there was a power vacuum after Evo Morales resigned as president under pressure on Sunday.
Speaking to reporters in Brasilia at a BRICS summit, Putin said he hoped that whoever comes to power in Bolivia would continue to cooperate with Moscow.
“A situation has arisen in which there is no authority at all,” Putin said. “The country is on the verge of chaos.”
“Everything changes quickly in Latin America. Let’s hope that common sense will prevail.”
Moscow has commercial interests in Bolivia where Russia’s state nuclear agency is building a nuclear center. Morales visited Moscow for talks with Putin as recently as June, pointing to Bolivian gas and lithium as areas for cooperation.
Earlier on Thursday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow was ready to work with Bolivia’s interim leader, but stressed that she had come to power without having a full quorum in parliament.
Jeanine Anez, the Bolivian Senate’s vice-president, stepped in as interim leader on Tuesday after Morales resigned in what Russia has compared to an orchestrated coup. Russia’s Foreign Ministry this week accused Bolivia’s opposition of unleashing violence that prevented Morales from completing his mandate.
Meanwhile, Russia landed attack helicopters and troops at a sprawling air base in northern Syria vacated by U.S. forces, the Russian Defence Ministry’s Zvezda TV channel said on Friday.
Armed Russian military police were shown in footage aired on Zvezda flying into the Syrian air base in northern Aleppo province near the border with Turkey and fanning out to secure the area.
The move comes after U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from parts of Syria last month.
The facility will be used as a center to distribute humanitarian aid for local residents and the military aerodrome is now controlled by Syrian government forces allied with Moscow, Zvezda said.
On Thursday, Zvezda said Russia had set up a helicopter base at an airport in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli, a move designed to increase Moscow’s control over events on the ground there.
Russia and Turkey are carrying out joint patrols along Syria’s border with Turkey as part of a deal struck between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart TayyipErdogan.
“We entered the base and took the inner and external perimeter under control,” a senior Russian military police inspector was quoted by Zvezda as saying.
“Now sappers are looking and going through every building to make sure there aren’t some kind of explosive substances left behind or some kind of surprises here for us,” he said.
Zvezda aired footage of U.S. equipment such as medical supplies to treat sunburn that had been left behind as well as a gym and sleeping facilities.
Russia has two permanent military facilities in Syria, an air base in Latakia province used for air strikes against forces opposing President Bashar al-Assad, and a naval facility at Tartus on the Mediterranean.