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Washington levied sanctions Tuesday on a Rosneft subsidiary—Rosneft Trading, in the latest round of The United States’ maximum pressure campaign on the Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela, according to senior Trump administration officials.
“Today we sanctioned Russian-owned oil firm Rosneft Trading S.A., cutting off Maduro’s main lifeline to evade our sanctions on the Venezuelan oil sector. Those who prop up the corrupt regime and enable its repression of the Venezuelan people will be held accountable,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet.
Rosneft said of the new sanctions that they were an “outrage”.
The sanctions block all US assets of Rosneft Trading and its director, Didier Casimiro, and will extend to anyone doing business—any business--with Rosneft Trading.
The Trump administration referred to Rosneft Trading as the “gravest violator” of the imposed limits on Maduro as much of the Western world wants him ousted—and fast. Specifically, the US is alleging that Rosneft has sent oil tankers to Venezuelan ports with the location tracking system disabled and has transferred Venezuelan oil in the middle of international waters to ship on to Asia and West Africa.
It is also possible that recent talks between Rosneft and Venezuela that would see Rosneft take over some PDVSA assets was enough to spook the Trump administration into further action.
The extra sanctions added today serve not only as a warning to Rosneft, but will apply even greater pressure on Maduro, who is desperately clinging to power no matter what painful economic measures the US throws his way. Maduro’s staying power is due in part to Rosneft’s support.
The additional sanctions, which include a 90-day wind down period for companies doing business with Rosneft, received bipartisan support in the US.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.
In defiance of the United States, Russia and China are both keeping Venezuela’s economy afloat and also helping increase Venezuela’s oil production and exports.
The real question the United States has to answer is how come that it grants US oil company Chevron a sanction waiver to continue operating in Venezuela and helping PDVSA raise its oil production in the four joint projects Chevron shares with PDFVSA but slaps sanctions on Rosneft when it does exactly the same.
The answer is clear. By allowing Chevron to continue operating in Venezuela, the US hopes to deliver a functioning oil industry to its puppet Juan Guaido if it ever succeeds to effect a regime change in the country.
However, the Venezuelan people will never permit a regime change in their country to install an American puppet as president. President Nicholas Maduro will continue as the legitimate president of Venezuela as long the Venezuelan people want him.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London