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Pompeo to push Russia to end support of Venezuela's Maduro

Washington — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to discuss Russia's ongoing support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, including ongoing oil and product trade that the Trump administration views as undermining US sanctions, sources said Friday.

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"We disagree with Russia's continued support for Maduro and that's going to be the subject of discussion," a senior State Department official said during a briefing with reporters Friday. "We are concerned about Russia's role in Venezuela and support for Maduro is a losing bet."

Pompeo plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Sochi Tuesday.

"I think Pompeo will urge Russia to pull back its support for the Maduro regime, including pulling back its commercial engagement with PDVSA [Venezuela's state-owned oil company]," said Elizabeth Rosenberg, director of the energy program at the Center for a New American Security and a former senior sanctions adviser at the Department of the Treasury. "The United States wants to be sure that Russian firms are not delivering diluent to PDVSA, or any light products. There could be a sanctions enforcement threat against Russian energy companies if they make themselves a lifeline for PDVSA and Maduro."

In January, the US unveiled new sanctions on PDVSA, which created a de facto ban on US imports of Venezuelan crude, and prohibited the export of diluent to Venezuela. On April 28, it prohibited trade with PDVSA within the US financial system.

Since the sanctions were announced, PDVSA continues to send crude to Rosneft as part of debt repayment, according to documents reviewed by S&P Global Platts. Rosneft is a partner in multiple projects with PDVSA, including: PetroMonagas; PetroVictoria; Boqueron; PetroMiranda; and offshore projects on the Paria peninsula.

-- Brian Scheid, brian.scheid@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Valarie Jackson, newsdesk@spglobal.com