Venezuela defends Russia in Ukraine crisis

Venezuela defends Russia in Ukraine crisis
Russia's President Vladimir Putin addresses a joint session of Russian parliament on Crimea in the Kremlin in Moscow, on March 18, 2014.

CARACAS - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday criticised US and EU sanctions against his ally Russia for absorbing Crimea.

"It is way out of line to threaten with sanctions when these issues must be resolved through the diplomatic channels of international law," Maduro said on his daily radio program.

"They want to surround Russia to weaken it, to crush it, to destroy it," said Maduro.

He said there was a double standard at play because the West supported separating Kosovo from Serbia a decade ago but now objects to Crimea's weekend referendum in which voters opted to break away from Ukraine and join Russia.

Venezuela and Russia are tied by multimillion dollar contracts in areas such as defense, energy, manufacturing and construction.

The alliance was forged by the late president Hugo Chavez and has continued under Maduro, who was elected last year after Chavez died of cancer.

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