A new front in geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and Russia has opened in Venezuela, with both now declaring their support for rival leaders President Nicolas Maduro and the self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido.
Experts are now drawing parallels between the contest for influence over Venezuela's political and economic future with the battle over regime change in Syria in recent years.
Russia gave its military, financial and diplomatic support to controversial President Bashar Assad in a complex civil war that started in 2011. Meanwhile, the U.S. and its Western allies backed regime change and various rebel groups looking to oust Assad from power — although all sides were fighting in an uncomfortable alliance against the so-called Islamic State.
The civil war in Syria was largely seen as a battle for influence in the Middle East, with Russia keen to not see another regional ally come under America's sphere of influence. Russia is now largely credited with keeping Assad in power.
Now, there is a battle for the leadership in oil-rich Venezuela with the U.S. backing regime change under opposition leader Guaido, who declared himself president last week, and Russia supporting socialist dictator Maduro.