Biden Weighs Easing Sanctions On Venezuela To Isolate Russia

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(WABNEWS) — The administration of US President Joe Biden is weighing the possibility of easing sanctions on Venezuela so the country can start producing more oil and selling it on the international market, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. theme.

The move would be aimed at reducing global dependence on Russian oil amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and isolating Russia from one of its key allies in South America, the person said.

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Officials from the Biden administration, including the director of the National Security Council for the Western Hemisphere, Juan González, and the US special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, Roger Carstens, were sent to Caracas over the weekend. to discuss the issue, the person with knowledge of the matter said, as well as to discuss U.S. citizens currently detained in Venezuela.

The New York Times was the first to report on the officials’ trip to Venezuela.

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Washington imposed sanctions on Venezuelan oil in 2019 and closed its embassy in Caracas after deeming President Nicolás Maduro’s 2018 electoral victory a sham.

In recent months, President Biden has tasked his administration with finding ways to dramatically reduce the world’s reliance on Russian oil and gas, the source said, and easing sanctions against Venezuela is just one of the ideas they are exploring.

Biden officials are also weighing a possible presidential trip to Saudi Arabia in the coming months, three people familiar with the talks confirmed, as the United States works to shore up the relationship with the oil-producing kingdom. News of the possible trip was first reported by Axios.

When it comes to Venezuela, officials believe increased Venezuelan production could replace a good chunk of lost supply by isolating Russia and making it easier for the United States and its allies to ban Russian oil imports.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has already criticized the discussions, tweeting over the weekend that “instead of producing more American oil,” Biden “wants to replace the oil we bought from one murderous dictator with oil from another murderous dictator.” But the source with knowledge of the talks said simply increasing US oil production would not make up for the amount lost by isolating Russia.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the United States and its allies were actively exploring ways to ban Russian oil imports, which would further damage Russia’s economy.

The West has so far been reluctant to impose significant sanctions on Russia’s energy sector because of how it could impact the global economy, but is now inching closer to doing so as Europe works to diversify its energy sources.

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