WASHINGTON, March 6, 2022 (AFP) – Senior United States officials traveled to Venezuela on Saturday to meet with the government of Nicholas Maduroat a time when Washington seeks to isolate Russia from its allies by intensifying the conflict with Ukraine, The New York Times reported.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has prompted the United States to pay more attention to allies of President Vladimir Putin in Latin America, who Washington believes could become security threats if the confrontation with Russia deepens,” the newspaper quoted unidentified sources familiar with the subject.
government spokesmen for Joe Biden and Maduro consulted by AFP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
United States and Venezuela they severed diplomatic relations in 2019, after Maduro was sworn in for a second term in widely disputed elections. Washington then recognized the opposition leader Juan Guaidopresident of the Legislature, as the only legitimate authority, and imposed a battery of sanctions on Caracas in order to force Maduro out.
The measures include an embargo in force since April 2019 that prevents Venezuela from trading its crude – which represented 96% of the country’s income – in the US market.
Since then, Mature received a strong Russian support to be able to continue exporting oil despite US sanctions.
According to the Times, the current visit to Caracas by high-ranking officials from the State Department and the White House responds to Washington’s supposed interest in being able to replace part of the oil it currently buys from Russia with the oil it stopped buying from Venezuela.
The White House on Friday it was examining how to reduce Russia’s oil imports after the Ukraine invasion without hurting American consumers while maintaining global supply.
The United States signaled last month that it would be willing to review the sanctions policy towards Venezuela if the dialogue between the Maduro government and the opposition, launched in August in Mexico but suspended since October, progressed.
THE NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY