Russia's Putin warns Bolivia is on the brink of chaos

Russia's President Vladimir Putin gestures as he arrives to attend a meeting of leaders of the BRICS emerging economies at the Itamaraty palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, November 14, 2019. Pavel Golovkin/Pool via REUTERS

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday 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.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; writing by Tom Balmforth and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Tom Brown