Global challenges to the legitimacy of President Nicolas Maduro's government began to bite harder on Tuesday as the United States handed control over Venezuela's USA bank accounts to opposition challenger Juan Guaido and Russian Federation announced it expects Venezuela to have problems paying its debts.
Guaido, the current leader of the opposition-led National Assembly - which Maduro does not recognize - said Monday that he would take control of Venezuela's foreign assets to keep Maduro from commandeering them in an eventual full exit from power.
The U.S. backed last week Juan Guaidó, the chairman of the National Assembly, as the legitimate president of Venezuela, after Guaidó declared himself interim president.
Mr Pompeo said the move would "help Venezuela's legitimate government safeguard those assets for the benefit of the Venezuelan people".
The U.S. government's decision to impose sweeping sanctions on Venezuela's state oil company appears to be, in essence, a ban on selling the country's crude to the U.S - and potentially across the world.
Without a source of revenue or control of the military, he faces hard odds in assuming leadership of the country, despite support across most of the Western Hemisphere.
The two now live outside Venezuela, but claim to be in communication with hundreds of soldiers now serving under Maduro who are willing defectors.
PDVSA responded to the sanctions by ordering customers with tankers waiting to load crude destined for the United States to prepay, according to sources. On 27 January, former United Nations rapporteur Alfred de Zayas said these sanctions could amount to "crimes against humanity".
The Kremlin considers the sanctions against PDVSA as "illegal", a sign of "unfair competition" and an attempt to interfere with Venezuela's internal affairs, Peskov said on Tuesday.
International Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 rose over 2 percent on Tuesday in reaction.
If Maduro doesn't comply with this demand, the European Union said it "will take further actions, including on the issue of recognition of the country's leadership in line with article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution".
Venezuela, Mexico, Canada, Iraq and Saudi Arabia are the top five crude shippers to the U.S. Gulf Coast refiners, making up almost 80% of the area's imports, according Michael Tran, commodity strategist from RBC Capital Markets.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the new sanctions "violate all possible global norms" and show a course toward regime change in embattled Venezuela.
According to analysts briefed by Platts, whatever the outcome of Venezuela's political impasse, Rosneft won't be cut off from Venezuelan oil assets, as oil is pretty much the only hard-currency revenue the country can get.
Russian Federation and China, who are among the countries supporting Maduro's administration and have bankrolled his government, strongly criticized the US sanctions on Monday. He said only that all his talks with heads of state have focused on resolving Venezuela's humanitarian crisis and restoring democracy.