Venezuela moving oil company office to Russia

Venezuelan Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Moscow, Russia, Friday. Photo by Sergei Chirikov/EPA EFE

March 2 (UPI) — Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said Friday the regime in Caracas is moving the European branch of state-run oil company PDVSA to Russia.

Rodriguez said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has instructed the office to relocate from Lisbon, Portugal, to Moscow — so it can work closer with Russian companies Rosneft and Gazprom. She made the remarks during a meeting in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“You know what is happening with oil assets of Venezuela located in the United States and other countries that show antipathy towards Venezuela, deprive it of assets and financial resources. In particular, we can recall the U.K. government that decided to pocket Venezuelan gold through the Bank of England,” she added.

The Bank of England froze $1.6 billion in gold reserves it holds for the Venezuelan regime after opposition leader Juan Guaido asked for protection of Venezuelan assets.

The United States in January announced sanctions against PDVSA intended to make oil revenues available only to Guaido, whom Washington considers Venezuela’s interim president.

Lavrov accused the U.S. government of trying to destabilize Venezuela.

“As for U.S. plans to provide weapons to militants to destabilize the situation in Venezuela — frankly speaking, for invading this sovereign country — they certainly cause us concern,” he said.

The United States was one of the first nations to recognize Guaido’s leadership and has imposed sanctions against Maduro’s regime. Washington participated in Group of Lima meetings as an observer, meaning it’s not bound by a group accord barring military intervention in Venezuela.

Russia, China, Mexico and Cuba are among the countries that still recognize Maduro as the legitimate president.

On Friday, the U.S. Treasury added six more Venezuelan individuals to its sanctions list, which already includes Maduro and top government officials. They block access to any property they may have in the United States. The six are Richard Lopez, a major general and key officer helping Maduro control the armed forces; Jesus Mantilla and Alberto Bermudez, generals in charge of blocking aid in the Brazil border; and Jose Norono and Jose Dominguez, both top military in the area bordering Colombia. Cristhiam Morales, who’s responsible for a prison escape in Tachira state, was also listed.

Paraguayan President Mario Abdo met Friday with Guaido, Ultima Hora reported, a day after meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Earlier this week, he attended a Group of Lima meeting in Bogota. He’s said he plans to return to Venezuela within days, although he could face potential trouble on his return.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said Friday his country is eyeing the next step to support Guaido, and has offered to “help China and Russia understand what is happening in Venezuela,” G1 reported. Guaido was reportedly scheduled to travel to Argentina later Friday after the meeting in Paraguay.


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