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Iran Press TV

Russian FM decries US sanctions on Venezuela as being 'illegal'

Iran Press TV

Saturday, 08 February 2020 6:53 AM

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has condemned US sanctions against Venezuela as being "illegal" as Washington ramps up pressure on the South American nation.

"These sanctions are illegal and are the main cause of the crisis in the Venezuelan economy," Lavrov said after meeting his Venezuelan counterpart Jorge Arreaza in Caracas on Friday.

He further said Russia considers "sanctions to be unacceptable, as are attempts to apply the laws of one country to another."

Lavrov's remarks came a day after he condemned the United States for seeking "regime change" in Venezuela by imposing sanctions on the country's state energy giant PDVSA, supporting opposition leader Juan Guaido and attempting to create a pretext for military intervention there.

The US Department of the Treasury slapped sanctions on PDVSA last year in a bid to oust Venezuela's socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Earlier this year, the administration of US President Donald Trump imposed a new round of sanctions on Venezuela as part of attempts to pressure Maduro to resign.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on January 21 that the move was meant to support Guaido, the US-backed opposition figure who claims to be the president.

Guaido was a guest at the US Congress when Trump delivered his State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

The US President described Guaido as "the true and legitimate president of Venezuela" and promised that Maduro's "grip on tyranny will be smashed and broken."

Trump later met with Guaido at the White House on Wednesday, with his office hailing the meeting "a historic discussion about how we can work together with our partners in the region to achieve a democratic transition in Venezuela."

Washington also warned Venezuela of consequences if Guaido is harmed or blocked from returning to the country.
The US has backed Guaido as part of its efforts to topple Maduro. Guaido has pushed the oil-rich Latin American country into political turmoil by rejecting the results of the 2018 presidential election after President Maduro won nearly 70% of the vote.

He later declared himself "interim president" and was immediacy recognized by the Trump administration and a number of US allies.

Although Guaido has the backing of the US, efforts to remove Maduro have failed since he retains control of most state functions, and support of the powerful armed forces as well as that of allies China, Russia and Cuba.

In addition to sanctions, the Trump administration has tried to pressure Maduro's foreign allies, including Cuba and Russia, to withdraw their support.

Robert C. O'Brien, Trump's national security adviser, warned Wednesday that the United States could impose sanctions on Russia's state-owned oil company, Rosneft, one of several energy giants with ties to Maduro's government.

A Trump official speaking on the condition of anonymity said other energy companies that do business with the Maduro government, including Chevron, should be on notice, saying that "the Trump administration is halfway through its maximum pressure campaign on Maduro."

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