Rubio says United States to sanction Venezuela's oil co

Venezuela Abandons Demand That U.S. Diplomats Leave

Venezuela's power struggle turns to winning military favor

White House national security adviser John Bolton has affirmed President Donald Trump's willingness to use military action against Venezuela, if deemed necessary.

Vecchio met with U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, who reaffirmed support for opposition leader Juan Guaido - whom the U.S. administration considers Venezuela's interim president.

The Kremlin has denied reports that private military contractors who carry out secret missions for Russian Federation flew into Venezuela to reinforce security for its leader in the face of mass protests.

At a United Nations Security Council debate on Saturday, Russia and China strongly backed Maduro and rejected calls by the US, Canada, Latin American countries and European powers for early elections.

Bolton joined Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in addressing new steps against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who the US has deemed "illegitimate" in the face of a political challenge by National Assembly head Juan Guaidó.

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Maduro called Pompeo "a warlord" who speaks with "a lot of despair and hate" in an interview with CNN-Turk on Saturday after the US secretary spoke.

A major oil producer, Venezuela has been wracked by hyper-inflation, food shortages and intense crime since Maduro came to power in 2013.

Guaido has won wide worldwide support, including from the United States. The action would bolster Guaido, he said, while accusing Maduro's regime of "human rights violations and abuses in response to anti-Maduro protests, arbitrary arrest and detention of anti-Maduro protesters, curtailment of press freedom, harassment of political opponents, and continued attempts to undermine" Guaido's government-in-waiting.

The Trump administration's quick recognition of Guaido was quickly met with alarm by progressive anti-war advocates and commentators, who denounced the move as the beginnings of a coup and warned that USA intervention in Venezuela's internal affairs will only make the country's economic and political crises worse.

"Venezuelan soldier, I'm talking to you".

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FILE PHOTO: Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido accompanied by his wife Fabiana Rosales, speaks to the media after a holy Mass at a local church in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 27, 2019.

He contends that Maduro's re-election to a second six-year term was fraudulent.

USA drillers added 10 oil rigs last week, according to energy services firm Baker Hughes on Friday, in another sign of the expanding record US crude production that has soured market sentiment.

The first major military officer to publicly switch his support to Guaido was Venezuela's military attache in Washington, Army Colonel Jose Luis Silva. Maduro's assertion was based on reports that Vice President Mike Pence had promised to support Guaidó only days before the opposition leader declared himself to be in charge of the country.

The small number of USA diplomats in Venezuela, he said, "will remain and comfortably continue their lives with the protection we will provide for them".

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Both Russia and China are major creditors of Venezuela.

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