Venezuela calls on Russia to expand military support as new US sanctions hit

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Venezuela calls on Russia to expand military support as new US sanctions hit

The political tension over the situation in Venezuela continues to escalate.

As the US adds new economic sanctions, Venezuela says it will expand its military alliance with Russia.

CGTN’s Juan Carlos Lamas reports from Caracas.

 The U.S. Treasury Department has added Venezuela’s top diplomat, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, to a growing number of officials on its sanctions list.  

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. will not simply stand by and watch as, in his words, the “illegitimate Maduro regime starves the Venezuelan people of their wealth, humanity, and right to democracy.”  

The sanctions against the foreign minister come just days before major sanctions against Venezuela’s oil industry are set to take effect. 

Oil is Venezuela’s economic lifeline and starting next Monday no foreign entity will be able to use the U.S. financial system to buy Venezuelan oil.  

Foreign Minister Arreaza tweeted the sanctions will give “us more strength to fight,” for Venezuela’s democracy. He says U.S. policies towards Venezuela amount to a precursor to a military invasion, and he’s calling on Russia to increase its efforts to help Venezuela defend itself.    

Another long-time Venezuela ally has entered the fray, with Cuba’s foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla denying that Cuba has troops in Venezuela, calling U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton a “pathological liar.”

Bolton says some 20,000 Cubans in Venezuela are providing security for Maduro. Rodriguez says they are mostly medical students.  

As politicians around the globe make headlines talking about the situation in Venezuela, many people here say they think the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.  Media reports indicate that at least 58,000 Venezuelans have applied for asylum in the U.S. and are waiting for answers.