Russia’s Rosneft rejects US claim on sanctions

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Russian state oil company Rosneft has rejected accusations by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that it is violating sanctions on Venezuela.

Pompeo said Monday that Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin — a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — “continues to throw a lifeline” to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. He said Rosneft was buying crude oil from Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA “in defiance of U.S. sanctions.”

Rosneft disputes what it calls “groundless accusations” and says any contracts it has for oil purchasing in Venezuela pre-date the introduction of U.S. sanctions.

Rosneft is a major foreign investor in Venezuela as a partner of state-owned PDVSA, which is under U.S. sanctions. Sechin was personally sanctioned by the U.S. in 2014 shortly after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.