The US could soon impose additional sanctions on the Russian energy company Rosneft due to its continued support of the Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela. According to the TASS news agency, this was mentioned at a press conference on Wednesday by a high-ranking member of the Donald Trump administration.
According to him, the administration is considering the possibility of including new sanctions against Russia’s largest oil company in its package of “paralyzing” measures against the Venezuelan government which will be adopted over the next 30 days.
“We are deeply concerned by Rosneft’s behavior in Venezuela,” said the official, adding that “we are considering all options, in terms of exerting pressure – whether on the Russian organizations which support Maduro, or on others”.
He refused to say whether Moscow was aware of the threat or what steps Rosneft would need to take to avoid the sanctions. “It’s a matter of internal considerations, which of course I can’t talk about,” the White House representative explained.
“Venezuela is a priority with respect to national security… in the sense that it is having a destabilizing effect on its neighbors… Columbia, Ecuador, Chile and other countries have been facing unrest in recent months. This destabilization, of course, worries us, and we are working with our allies to guarantee that it stops,” he added.
According to Reuters, in October last year, Rosneft bought 62% of the oil produced in Venezuela, and then sold it to refineries in India and China. With these deliveries, Venezuela repaid $16 billion worth of Russian loans which had accumulated since 2006.
Since summer last year, Rosneft has been the only remaining supplier of petrol to the Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA, which has been under sanctions from the US Treasury Department since January 2019, with its assets being frozen and a ban on any transactions.
The sanctions also allow Washington to impose secondary measures on companies which the US believes are involved in significant dealings with the Maduro regime. The Trump Administration discussed the possibility of punishing Rosneft for its Venezuelan operations in summer, but abandoned these plans, fearing complications, sources in the White House told FT.