THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL | The Russian government has been instrumental in preserving the Maduro regime, despite years of intense domestic and international pressure favoring a democratic transition. Russia, under the auspices of President Vladimir Putin, has provided the regime invaluable diplomatic leverage, security personnel, and material, as well as an economic lifeline. Until recent sanctions ended the practice, this has taken the form of support from Russian oil company Rosneft to buy, transport, and sell Venezuelan crude. That trade allowed state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) and the Maduro regime, by extension, to profit off of Venezuela’s massive natural resource base. Indeed, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stated that Maduro might have forfeited power and left Venezuela in April 2019 had his Russian backers not convinced him to stay at a crisis moment.
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