Kremlin slams United States sanctions against PDVSA as meddling in Venezuela's affairs

Kremlin slams United States sanctions against PDVSA as meddling in Venezuela's affairs

Kremlin slams United States sanctions against PDVSA as meddling in Venezuela's affairs

The US has imposed sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil firm PDVSA after the country's president refused to step down.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the sanctions would block $US7 billion ($9.8 billion) in PDVSA's assets, "plus over $11 billion in lost export proceeds over the next year".

Venezuela has been embroiled in political power tug-of-war since opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president last week as part of a campaign to remove disputed President Nicolas Maduro.

"We call on our allies and partners to join the United States in recognizing interim president Guaido and blocking Maduro from being able to access funds".

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

Minutes after the announcement, Guaido said he was not underestimating a threat of imprisonment but did not believe it was "anything new".

The United States, Brazil and some other countries have recognized Guaido's presidency, with U.S. President Donald Trump warning that "all options are on the table".

Maduro's inauguration sparked protests throughout Venezuela.

Maduro said he wants peace, but also announced more military games for February.

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As a lawmaker who also heads the National Assembly, Guaidó has immunity from criminal investigation which can only be removed by a high court.

Mr Mnuchin said PDVSA must cut itself off from President Maduro in order to see sanctions dropped.

"The legitimate authorities of Venezuela have already labelled these sanctions illegal".

Guaido met with officials from the United States and from the Lima Group, in order to drum up support for the fractious opposition - according to an unnamed Canadian official quoted by the AP, it is "the first time in at least five years the opposition has shown an ability to come together in any meaningful manner".

Storchak said Venezuela owes Russian Federation $3bn, with repayments twice a year of around $100m. Brent crude futures surged 2.9% to $61.7 per barrel Tuesday morning on the news, while West Texas Intermediate futures rose 3.4% to $53.9 per barrel.

The new US sanctions could cause problems for Venezuela when it comes to servicing its sovereign debt to Russia, which stands at $3.15 billion, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak told reporters on Tuesday.

The company sells oil to clients in the U.S., Europe and Asia and requires payment in euros, and buys gasoline and diesel for payment in euros as well.

Mexico and Iraq are instead most likely to benefit in the race to replace Venezuela heavy crude imported for processing at refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, analysts at RBC Capital Markets said in a report.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said historical experience showed foreign interference "only makes situations more complicated".

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