Washington is not yet ready to impose sanctions on Russia's state oil giant Rosneft in connection with the company’s business in Venezuela, but may consider possible restrictive measures in the future, US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said during a telephone briefing broadcast in Brussels.
"Yes, the United States may impose sanctions on Rosneft [for activities in Venezuela], but we are not there yet," he said responding to a relevant question.
"I think Rosneft makes a lot of money in Venezuela. I believe that they buy crude oil in Venezuela at a great discount, sell final products to them, such as fuel oil, kerosene, gasoline. They help Venezuela, but they suck it dry and make money from it. At some point, we will have to explore the possibilities, which retaliatory measures we can apply to Rosneft," he elaborated.
Earlier, Abrams admitted that Rosneft’s activities in Venezuela do not violate existing US extraterritorial sanctions against that country.
Reaction of Rosneft
Rosneft supplies oil from Venezuela under pre-paid contracts concluded before the US imposed sanctions against that country, the Russian state oil giant said in a statement on Tuesday.
"All operations to supply Venezuelan oil to the company and its units, as well as counter-gas supplies to Venezuela, are carried out under pre-paid contracts concluded before the imposition of sanctions and do not pursue any interests other than ensuring the return on investments made earlier," Rosneft officials stressed. They added that the company reserves the right to protect its investments in relevant national and international jurisdictions.
"The current statements by the US authorities are aimed at creating additional tension in the world market, which ultimately affects the company’s investment value," the company said.
Rosneft is ready to conduct an open dialogue with US authorities to clarify its position, the company concluded.
Washington’s clampdown against Venezuela
On August 5, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order freezing all assets of the Venezuelan government under US jurisdiction and prohibiting any financial means, goods or services from being provided to Caracas. In particular, sanctions were imposed on Venezuela’s Central Bank and the oil and natural gas company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).
Political turmoil in Venezuela
On January 23, Juan Guaido, Venezuelan opposition leader and parliament speaker, whose appointment to that position had been cancelled by the country’s Supreme Court, declared himself interim president at a rally in the country’s capital of Caracas. Several countries, including the United States, most EU states, Lima Group members (excluding Mexico), Australia, Albania, Georgia and Israel, as well as the Organization of American States, recognized him.
Maduro, in turn, blasted the move as a coup staged by Washington and said he was severing diplomatic ties with the US. Contrary to Washington’s move, Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, China, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria and Turkey voiced support for Maduro.