As Washington intensifies its push to drive Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro from power, Russia's Vladimir Putin has vowed to support his South American "strategic partner" and warned of the "catastrophic" consequences if the USA were to send military assistance to opposition leader Juan Guaido.
He said Mexico, Uruguay, Bolivia, Russia, the Vatican and several unnamed European countries wanted talks between him and the opposition.
The latest U.S. sanctions announced on Monday appear to be aimed at pressuring President Nicolas Maduro to step down and to build on the momentum that has mounted in recent weeks against him at home and overseas.
"These reserves don't belong to Calixto Ortega, they belong to Venezuela", he added, referring to the central bank's president, a close ally of Maduro.
The sanctions mean the state-run company may not be able to fulfil contracts with North American buyers, the government of President Nicolas Maduro said.
Venezuela's disputed president Nicolas Maduro is holding firm in refusing to step down amid mounting political and worldwide pressure, but said he is "willing to sit down" and negotiate with opposition leaders "for the sake of Venezuela's peace and its future".
Venezuela's self-proclaimed acting president Juan Guaido has granted an interview to FRANCE 24.
"If the people in Venezuela want to continue to sell us oil, as long as the money goes into blocked accounts we will continue to take it".
Speaking on Tuesday outside the National Assembly, Mr Guaido said he was aware of personal risks.
"We call on other governments to recognize interim President Juan Guaido and take similar steps to protect Venezuela's patrimony from further theft by Maduro's corrupt regime".
Venezuelan Attorney General Tarek Saab sought a preliminary investigation of Guaido on the basis that he helped foreign countries interfere.
On top of that, the U.S. National Security adviser John Bolton tweeted on Wednesday, warning traders not to get involved with Venezuelan gold or oil. He added the consequences will hit "those who attempt to subvert democracy and harm Guaido".
On Monday, the U.S. hit Venezuela's state-owned oil company with potentially devastating economic sanctions that could cost the already distressed nation billions in revenue.
Colombia borders Venezuela and its government has sided with the U.S.in opposing Maduro.
Anton Barbashin, a political analyst at the Wilson Centre, said: "A major reason why Russian Federation supports Maduro - the same principle why it supports [Syria's President Bashar] al-Assad - is the belief that no foreign power should meddle in the sovereign affairs of a particular state".
"I am carrying out my duties as commander-in-chief according to the Constitution consolidating the national Bolivarian armed forces", he said.
However, Jn Marie expressed the view that there would be no immediate direct impact on the price of fuel in Saint Lucia from the crisis in Venezuela, since this country's supplies of petroleum products come out of Trinidad and Tobago. Inflation is out of control. More than 3 million Venezuelans have fled, causing consternation across the continent. The agency issued the warning "due to crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, and arbitrary arrest and detention of USA citizens".