Earlier on Tuesday, the United States added Switzerland-based Rosneft Trading SA and its head, Didier Casimiro, onto its Venezuela sanctions list, accusing them of handling over 70 percent of Venezuela’s oil exports in circumvention of US restrictions imposed by the US to overthrow Maduro’s government. The US also gave the companies doing business with Rosneft Trading 90 days to disentangle the arrangements.
"The sanctions on Rosneft's subsidiary, Rosneft Trading SA, and the chairman of the board of directors of this company are illegal and groundless, and amount to an act of lawlessness", Rosneft said in a statement. "After studying the released documents, the company will look into legal defense options", Rosneft added.
The company stressed that all of its operations in Venezuela were fully compliant with international law.
"Implementing its projects, the company engages in commercial activities exclusively, acting in the interest of its shareholders and not pursuing any political goals", Rosneft said, adding that it had been a major investor in the economy of Venezuela long before the US imposed sanctions on the Latin American country. "The company's activity in Venezuela is related to the implementation of production projects and trading ... It is conducted within the framework of contracts that have been signed prior to the introduction of sanctions, and it is aimed at ensuring the return of the previously made investment", the company went on to say.
Rosneft Trading S.A., a Swiss-based brokerage, is accused in Washington of handling over 70 percent of Venezuela’s oil exports in circumvention of restrictions imposed by the US to overthrow Maduro’s government.
"Today we sanctioned Russian-owned oil firm Rosneft Trading S.A., cutting off Maduro’s main lifeline to evade our sanctions on the Venezuelan oil sector", US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said via Twitter on Tuesday.
Today we sanctioned Russian-owned oil firm Rosneft Trading S.A., cutting off Maduro’s main lifeline to evade our sanctions on the Venezuelan oil sector. Those who prop up the corrupt regime and enable its repression of the Venezuelan people will be held accountable.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) February 18, 2020
The Russian Foreign Ministry has said that the sanctions will not make the country change its policy on Venezuela.
The Russian Embassy in Washington in a statement on Tuesday said the US sanctions against Rosneft Trading represent an example of unfair competition.
"This time the US Administration tries to oust our companies from Venezuela: Meanwhile American companies continue their operations in the mentioned country", the embassy said. "This is another clear example of unfair competition."
The designation of Rosneft Trading S.A. along with its head Didier Casimiro, who also serves as Vice President for Refining, Petrochemical, Commerce and Logistics with the parent company, makes their assets in the United States eligible for blocking and directly prohibits US entities and nationals from doing business with them.