Russia Vows To Defend Its Venezuelan Oil Assets

Yekaterina Kuzmina  RBC  TASS

The sanctions were announced to ratchet up pressure against Maduro and demonstrate USA support for Juan Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader who proclaimed himself interim president last week and was immediately recognised by the United States and a host of other countries.

"The Maduro crime family has used PDVSA to buy and keep the support of many military leaders", Rubio said. Pompeo encouraged the council to recognize Juan Guaido as the constitutional interim president of Venezuela.

The U.S. government's decision to impose sweeping sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company appears to be, in essence, a ban on selling the country's crude to the U.S - and potentially across the world.

USA refineries can receive Venezuelan oil already paid for and now at sea, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

Citgo "will be able to continue to operate provided that any funds that would otherwise go to the oil company instead will go into a blocked account in the United States".

China has said it opposes unilateral sanctions.

USA imports of Venezuelan crude were already in decline for a few years, amid the country's political turmoil, lack of investment, and falling oil production.

Venezuela's production has plunged in recent years as its oil industry collapsed in tandem with the country's broader economy.

"Russia is doing everything to support the lawful government of Maduro", he said, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

Many people are going hungry, while inflation has skyrocketed and left basic goods unaffordable.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin attends a press briefing at the White House in Washington D.C. January 28, 2019.

Bolton may have inadvertently revealed the Trump administration's next move against Venezuela when photographers captured a note on a legal pad that clearly read: "5,000 troops to Columbia".

The sanctions do not prohibit deals between PDVSA and major USA oil companies operating in Venezuela, including Chevron, Halliburton Co and Schlumberger NV.

That inevitably means that the regime will stop sending the oil.

Mr Guaido, who declared himself acting president Wednesday, said he will begin the process of naming new boards for PDVSA and Citgo to "start recovering our industry that is going through a dark time".

"While the general belief is that Canadian heavy barrels should benefit with the demise of Venezuela, the notional degree of market share up for grabs for Canada is not as large as for competing countries", they said.

PDVSA becomes a Specially Designated National, meaning USA citizens are generally prohibited from dealing with it. Inclusion on this list is a powerful tool with the potential to curb trade in Venezuelan oil far beyond US borders.

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