File – Elliott Abrams, left, listens to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talk about Venezuela at the State Department in Washington, D.C. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo]
UPDATED 10:04 AM PT — Wednesday, February 19, 2020
The Trump administration recently announced it’s imposing sanctions on a subsidiary of the Russian oil conglomerate Rosneft.
The sanctions will freeze all assets held in the U.S. by Rosneft Trading SA, the Swiss-incorporated broker for the Russian oil company, and also target firm President Didier Casimiro. Private holders of interests in the firm will be given 90 days to divest from the company or risk having their assets frozen.
Rosneft and its subsidiaries have been accused of helping embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro evade existing U.S. sanctions on its oil exports, a major source of income for the regime, which controls the world’s largest reserves of crude oil.
According to U.S. Special Rep. for Venezuela Elliot Abrams, the Russian company disguised shipments of crude oil. Just last month, it moved over 2 million barrels to West Africa.
Maduro’s regime has depended on aid from Russia, China, and Cuba since an attempt was made to replace him with Juan Guaido, the former president of the National Assembly of Venezuela. The U.S. and other Western allies recognize Guaido as the acting president of the South American country pending Democratic elections.
Self-proclaimed interim president of Venezuela and opposition leader Juan Guaido attends a legislative session at the San Antonio municipal theater, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. The lawmakers are meeting at an alternative location due to the government blocking their access to the National Assembly chambers. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
Since last year, the U.S. has increased pressure on Maduro to cede power and allow for elections by imposing sanctions on key Venezuelan industries. This included its state-owned oil and natural gas company Petróleos de Venezuela.
While announcing the sanctions, Abrams reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to continuing its campaign to oust Maduro from power and seek democratic elections for the people of Venezuela.
‘Today’s sanctions are another step in the policy of pressuring the Maduro regime to allow Venezuela to escape from its terrible crisis through free and fair presidential elections,” he stated. “There will be more steps and further pressure.’
Officials in the administration have added they do not believe the move will have an effect on global oil prices.