Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro slammed Donald Trump
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro slammed Donald Trump

U.S. government announced on Tuesday that it had imposed sanctions against a subsidiary of Russian oil producer Rosneft and the subsidiary’s president due to their alleged support for Venezuela in sanctions evasion, the latest move to further squeeze the Venezuelan government.

The designated targets were Rosneft Trading S.A., a subsidiary of the Russian state-controlled Rosneft oil company, and its president Didier Casimiro, according to a statement issued by U.S. Department of the Treasury.

“Rosneft Trading S.A. and its president brokered the sale and transport of Venezuelan crude oil,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

The statement noted that all property and interests of the blacklisted targets are blocked. Meanwhile, the Treasury also issued a general license that allows companies to wind down their transactions with Rosneft Trading S.A.

A senior official of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration said during a background press call that Rosneft Trading S.A. has provided “the overwhelming amount of financial resources and hard currency” for the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The senior official pointed out that the United States was “somewhere in 50 to 60 percent of our maximum pressure strategy and campaign towards Venezuela,” saying that it would continue to implement pressure against Venezuela until “there is a democratic transition.”

“The president has made clear over and over again that all options are on the table, we will continue to analyze all options,” the official added.

In response to U.S. blacklisting Rosneft Trading S.A., Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza later in the day said that the United States aims to aggravate the misery of Venezuelan people.

“The U.S. coercive, unilateral measures against Rosneft Trading are aimed against our oil industry, its workers and the Venezuelan economy,” Arreaza said on Twitter.

“They continue to attack the Venezuelan people, trying to incite suffering and hardship,” he added.

Tuesday’s sanction came less than two weeks after the United States blocked a state-owned Venezuelan airline amid increasing wrestling between Washington and Moscow over the Venezuela issue.

The United States has been pursuing a policy of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation against the Maduro government in support of Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Following the reception held by Trump for Guaido at the White House earlier this month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov paid an official visit to Venezuela to enhance bilateral cooperation.

“We have agreed on our path of future work, to deepen economic cooperation of investments in other areas, despite illegitimate sanctions,” Lavrov said after meeting with Maduro on Feb. 7.

The priority sectors for investment are energy, natural resources, industry, and agriculture, Lavrov said in Venezuela, adding that great importance would also be placed on developing military cooperation.

“Russians may soon find that their continued support of Maduro will no longer be cost-free,” U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said in early February. Enditem

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