Venezuela crisis: US blacklists Russian oil firm for helping Maduro

(BBC) – The US has sought to increase financial pressure on Venezuela by blacklisting a subsidiary of Russia’s state-controlled Rosneft oil giant.

The move freezes any US-held assets of the Switzerland-based Rosneft Trading SA and its chairman, Didier Casimiro.

The firm is accused of helping President Nicolás Maduro to evade US sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry.

The US accuses Mr Maduro of leading a corrupt and brutal regime, a charge he has repeatedly rejected.

Oil dominates Venezuela’s economy, accounting for almost all of its export earnings. But oil production in Venezuela has collapsed in recent years, and the country is in a deep economic crisis.

The US is backing opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who last year declared himself interim president.

Earlier this month, the US imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-run airline Conviasa, saying the company was being used to “shuttle corrupt officials around the world”.

Meanwhile, Russia, a key backer of President Maduro, has pledged to boost economic and military co-operation with the government in Caracas.

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