USA hits Venezuela state-owned oil company with sanctions

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The issue of Washington sending a military contingent to Colombia, which borders Venezuela, arose after a picture surfaced and went viral of US National Security Adviser John Bolton holding a notepad, with two visible notes reading "Afghanistan - welcome the talks", and "5,000 troops to Colombia", during a press conference on Venezuela.

In a statement issued on January 26, the European Union called for the "urgent holding of free, transparent and credible presidential elections in accordance with internationally democratic standards and the Venezuelan constitutional order".

Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaidó will sit down with FOX Business' Trish Regan tonight for an exclusive one-on-one interview since the United States announced its support for the interim president.

Until now, President Donald Trump had held off on targeting Venezuela's vital oil sector.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday certified that Guaido has authority to take control of bank accounts that Venezuela's government has in the Federal Reserve Bank of NY or any other U.S. -insured banks.

"The Maduro crime family has used PDVSA to buy and keep the support of many military leaders, " the Florida Republican said.

The sanctions, imposed on January 28, prohibit PDVSA from collecting proceeds from crude oil sales to US refineries, adding to the pressure on Maduro.

Countries around the world have recognised Guaido as Venezuela's rightful leader, and the United States vowed to starve Maduro's administration of oil revenue after he was sworn in on Jan 10 for a second term that was widely dubbed illegitimate.

The United States imposed sanctions on Venezuela and PDVSA in 2017 that prevented Citgo from repatriating dividends to its parent company.

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International Brent crude oil futures rose over 2 percent on Tuesday in reaction.

The country sends about 40 per cent of its 1.3 million barrels per day of oil exports to the United States, RBC noted.

"If you do not find a place for that crude quickly, the room for maneuver will shrink and imports will be affected", said Asdrubal Oliveros, director of Caracas-based consultancy Ecoanalitica.

The Kremlin condemned the sanctions as illegal interference, while China said they would lead to suffering for which Washington would bear responsibility.

Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak told Russian state news agencies Tuesday "there will probably be problems" for Venezuela in paying its debts.

Venezuela was the refiner's third-largest provider after the USA and Mexico.

Russian Federation has accused Washington of trying to usurp power in Venezuela and warned against military intervention.

China believes that Venezuela's affairs must and can only be decided by the its own people, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Friday.

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