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Protected by Armor: US Sanctions Pose no Risk for Russia-Venezuela Ties - Maduro

© REUTERS / Marco BelloNicolas Maduro, presidente de Venezuela
Nicolas Maduro, presidente de Venezuela - Sputnik International
CARACAS (Sputnik) - New US sanctions against Venezuelan state-owned PDVSA energy company pose no risks for the cooperation of Venezuela and Russia, country's President Nicolas Maduro told Sputnik in an interview.

"There are no [risks], because Russia is an independent and sovereign state. Russian enterprises are very powerful and they possess own engineering staff, finance, logistics. PDVSA is an enterprise of the sovereign state. [Russia and Venezuela] are two sovereign states that do business, invest and implement huge oil production projects. Everything will be fine, it is protected by armor — business between Russia and Venezuela in oil and gas sector", Maduro said.

He added that Caracas would will meet its financial obligations to Moscow and Beijing.

"Venezuela pays, always on time," Maduro said in an interview, responding to a question on whether the Venezuelan government could guarantee repayment of loans received from Russia and China.

Maduro also noted that Caracas expected support of Russia and China in economic development of Venezuela.

On Monday, the United States blocked all assets of PDVSA in its jurisdiction and imposed ban on deals with the company. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that by blocking PDVSA assets, the United States takes care of this company in the interests of the people of Venezuela and also takes measures to protect its own market.

READ MORE: Russian Rosneft, Venezuelan PDVSA Plan to Launch Large-Scale Joint Project

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The situation in Venezuela, which has been reeling from a political crisis amid the opposition's refusal to recognize last year’s re-election of Maduro, significantly escalated last week when the opposition-controlled National Assembly declared the president a usurper. The national assembly's president, Juan Guaido, has proclaimed himself Venezuela's interim president.

The United States and other countries swiftly recognized him as the country's leader. Last week, a senior US administration official told reporters that "all options are on the table" for the United States if President Nicolas Maduro or any of his allies harm any members of the Venezuelan National Assembly or other legitimate government officials.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton in a statement on Tuesday also warned about "serious consequences for those who attempt to subvert democracy and harm Guaido".

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Russia, Cuba, China, Turkey amog others have given Maduro's government full support. Maduro himself called Venezuela "the victim of a US conspiracy", referring to US Vice President Mike Pence promising Guaidó "full American support" the day before he declared himself Venezuela's new leader.     

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that the US sanctions against Venezuela and its state oil company PDVSA were illegal and are an attempt to interfere in the country's affairs, adding that Russia was assessing risks for itself due to the US sanctions against Venezuela's PDVSA.

READ MORE: Rosneft, PDVSA Sign Strategic Partnership Pact – Venezuela Energy Ministry

Similarly, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that the new restrictions imposed against Caracas were effectively an attempt to confiscate the country's state assets.

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According to Lavrov, the United States and its allies are "grossly violating all possible norms of the international law in situation with Venezuela". Russia, however, will do everything possible to support the legitimate government in Venezuela, Lavrov reiterated.

Moreover, Moscow is calling on politicians who are considering a military intervention in Venezuela to abandon these plans, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told Sputnik on Tuesday. The diplomat added that Moscow would not discuss its potential actions in case of foreign military intervention in Venezuela as it is "absolutely counterproductive".

READ MORE: Maduro Discusses Ways to Boost Venezuelan Economic Independence With Russia

Dmitry Peskov also said Tuesday that the Kremlin warns about "extremely negative" consequences of a foreign military interference in Venezuelan affairs, and believes that related threats do not contribute to the normalization of the situation in the country and search for a political solution.

Nicolas Maduro also told Sputnik in an interview that Venezuela plans to continue receiving the most modern and advanced weapons systems from Russia.

"We always have plans to promote cooperation in order to improve [country's] air defense, artillery, rocket technology. We will always be moving forward in this area. And the most modern weapons in the world will come to Venezuela", Maduro said.

According to Maduro, such weapons systems constantly come from Russia.

"They [weapons systems] arrive every month, we have cooperation each month. And this is normal, there is nothing extraordinary here", the president added.

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Moreover, Venezuela is always grateful for Russian assistance.

"President Vladimir Putin always provides us with assistance from Russia in all senses, and we are grateful for that. What I asked President Putin is to keep in touch with us, to provide support at the diplomatic and political level in the United Nations in order to defend the truth of Venezuela internationally", Maduro said.

According to Maduro, during a conversation with Putin a few years ago, the Russian leader announced plans to strengthen cooperation with Venezuela in all areas, including "in the economy, trade, oil and gas, military affairs".

"In terms of military cooperation, we have Russian equipment of the highest level. The most modern weapons systems are in Venezuela, they are well deployed, all of our personnel that have been trained in Russia are working. We have a very good relationship with Putin in terms of military cooperation", Maduro added.

READ MORE: Russian Ambassador Says Reports on Alleged Russian Mercenaries in Venezuela Hoax

Russia and Venezuela have been intensively developing political dialogue, working together to expand and diversify bilateral ties in various fields and to boost strategic partnership.

The two countries have been consistently developing mutually beneficial cooperation in the fields of energy, industry, trade, transport, agriculture, housing construction, education, science, culture, emergency prevention and response, as well as defense industry cooperation and finance.

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