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Updated December 29th, 2023 at 17:21 IST

Venezuela accuses UK of provocation after London deploys navy ship to Guyana

Nicolás Maduro responded to the UK's deployment by announcing that his country's armed forces would now kick off their own military exercises.

AP
Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro | Image:AP
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Tensions are rising between Venezuela and the United Kingdom over a longstanding border dispute with Guyana. Venezuela has condemned the deployment of a British navy patrol ship to Guyana as an "act of hostile provocation," as per a report from Politico. 

The U.K. announced earlier this week that its HMS Trent vessel had been dispatched to Guyana in what it described as a show of support for the ex-British colony. The move comes after Venezuela held a referendum earlier this month seeking public backing for proposals to claim sovereignty over the Essequibo region, a vast area rich in oil and minerals that is controlled by Guyana but long contested by Venezuela.

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Maduro calls for military exercises

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro responded to the UK's deployment by announcing that his country's armed forces would now kick off their own military exercises. He called it "a joint action of a defensive nature in response to the provocation and threat of the U.K. against peace and the sovereignty of our country."

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UK downplays deployment

Britain's Ministry of Defense did not explicitly mention Venezuela when announcing the deployment. It said only that HM Trent would visit "regional ally and Commonwealth partner Guyana later this month as part of a series of engagements in the region during her Atlantic Patrol Task deployment."

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However, visiting Guyana last week, U.K. Foreign Office Minister David Rutley said: "The border issue has been settled for over 120 years. Sovereign borders must be respected wherever they are in the world."

Regional tensions rise

Regional tensions have been on the rise in recent weeks. In the wake of Caracas' referendum, Guyana and Venezuela signed an agreement promising not to use force and to continue dialogue in their dispute over Essequibo. However, Guyana wants the dispute resolved through the International Court of Justice in The Hague, while Venezuela does not recognize its jurisdiction over the row.

It remains to be seen how this latest development will affect the already fragile relationship between Venezuela and the United Kingdom. The deployment of the HMS Trent has certainly raised the stakes in the ongoing border dispute, and it is unclear whether the two countries can find a peaceful resolution to their differences.

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Published December 29th, 2023 at 17:21 IST

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