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Russia slams 'illegal' US sanctions on Venezuelan oil

U.S. sanctions imposed on Venezuela's state oil company are illegal and Russia will take all necessary steps to support the administration of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying on Tuesday. Lavrov said the sanctions amounted to an attempt by the United States to confiscate Venezuelan state assets, Russian news agencies quoted him as saying.

Moscow on Tuesday condemned as "illegal" sanctions announced by Washington against Venezuela's state oil company and aimed at crippling embattled President Nicolas Maduro's power base.

"The legitimate authorities of Venezuela have already labelled these sanctions illegal. We can wholly support this point of view," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

The measures against the state-owned PDVSA company were introduced to "change behaviour" at the ruling government, according to the US Treasury. Washington last week recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as a legitimate interim president and called on Maduro to step down.

Peskov called the sanctions an "overt intervention in Venezuela's domestic affairs" and a case of "illegal competition".

He added that Russia will strive to protect its interests "within the framework of international law".

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the new sanctions "violate all possible international norms" and show a course toward regime change in embattled Venezuela.

"The US has... publicly taken a course toward illegal regime change," he said Tuesday.

Russia will "do everything to support the legitimate government of president Maduro," he said at a press conference.

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