The rules of love and battle are the same. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shifted the relationship dynamic between the United States and Venezuela, which led to a resetting of relations between Washington and Caracas and a rise to power for Nicolas Maduro.
John Lyly’s poetry does not restrict itself to any particular subject area, whether it be love or politics. This concept is frequently invoked in American political writing to rationalise the use of coercive methods to achieve an end.
Almost immediately after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine threatened Europe’s gas supplies, Maduro’s crimes were forgiven according to the American Bible. A new geopolitical strategy was imminent, and soon there were prisoner exchanges and other signs of rehabilitation in Venezuela.
Here, realpolitik and geopolitics collide, as the Biden administration is working to improve relations with Maduro by reevaluating the United States’ previous attitude and giving Maduro’s authoritarian rule, which the United States does not recognise as legitimate, a measure of legitimacy.
The goal is to reduce the impact of US sanctions on Russian oil. It doesn’t matter that it seems hypocritical to end sanctions against one dictatorship in order to impose them on another.
Although the United States has no pressing need for this oil, rising European demand could push up the price of oil and gasoline in the United States.
Even if American shale oil is produced domestically, American refineries have been supplying European countries with Russian oil. High demand for American oil due to rising consumption in Europe leads to higher wholesale prices and higher retail costs for American drivers.
The US has many refineries that are more suited to processing Venezuela’s “heavy” crude than the lighter domestic or Saudi oil.
As soon as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 25, Venezuela, a staunch supporter of Russia, blamed NATO and the United States. The Venezuelan foreign ministry has claimed that the Minsk agreements, agreed in 2014 to end the conflict in the separatist territory of eastern Ukraine known as Donbas, have been broken by NATO and the United States.
On March 9, however, in an effort to mend fences with the Biden administration, Venezuela freed two American prisoners, one of whom was an oil executive who had been detained for more than four years.
A secret visit to Venezuela by senior Biden administration officials, the first by the White House in almost two decades, resulted in the release of Gustavo Cardenas and Jorge Fernandez.
Maduro had used a televised address to signal his willingness to resume negotiations with his opponent Juan Guaidó as a first step towards relief from the US sanctions that have been impacting the OPEC nation for years, just as American consumers were becoming alarmed by rising gas prices at the pump as a direct result of the Ukraine conflict.
The democratic opposition in Venezuela, led by Juan Guaidó, has relied on an interpretation of an article of the Venezuelan Constitution to support and give substance to a novel instrument called “interim government.”
This opposition includes the majority bloc of opposition parties in the National Assembly, civil society organisations, professional and intellectual guilds, universities and academia, the private sector, and independent media.
It was originally hoped that the interim administration would pave the way for free elections in Venezuela after the usurpation was finally over. However, according to the most fundamental theories of politics, the interim administration immediately entered a process of attrition in terms of the crystallisation of its aims once it lacked the backing of the Venezuelan Armed Forces.
In an effort to cut off financial support for Maduro’s government, former President Trump placed harsh sanctions on Venezuela’s oil.
US media have reported that during their meetings with Maduro in Caracas, a delegation from the Biden administration discussed the possibility of easing these sanctions and assessed Maduro’s desire to remove Venezuela from Russia.
The reason for this is that after Russia’s invasion, Biden realised that this international event could feed domestic anger due to its economic impact, and the move was considered as a method to limit this potential outcome.
Sanctions relief for Venezuela would have far-reaching consequences for regional geopolitics because it would legitimise President Nicolás Maduro’s authoritarian rule, a process that is already underway with the support of leftist governments in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Colombia, as well as the new Lula administration in Brazil, despite the United States’ opposition.
The United States can once again play a leading role in the geopolitics of Latin America as a result of its action. Despite the fact that the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union are the most common actors in international sanctioning, the United States’ foreign policy is often the driving force behind these actions.
Chevron, a US-based business, was granted permission by the US Treasury Department to continue some activities in Venezuela in November. The company’s continued presence in Venezuela was an effort to prevent its facilities there from falling into ruin as a result of the sanctions.
The United States’ economic sanctions programmes primarily against countries are administered and enforced by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
- The extraction and transportation of petroleum and petroleum products from Chevron JVs, as well as any necessary upkeep, repairs, or service of such JVs
- The sale, export, or import of petroleum or petroleum products generated by Chevron JVs into the United States, provided that such petroleum and petroleum products are first sold to Chevron
- Protecting the well-being of employees, customers, and Chevron JV partners in Venezuela, as well as the security of company property and assets
- The purchase and importation into Venezuela of diluents, condensates, petroleum, or natural gas products, or other items or inputs related to the activities listed in paragraphs (a)(1)-(3) of this general licence
The allure of bringing Maduro closer to US interests and further away from Russia was not lost on American authorities.
Russia has intervened between the United States and Latin America’s greatest oil producer for years, using debt relief and diplomatic support for Venezuela under both Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro. Over the past few years, Russia has increased its military and intelligence aid to Maduro.
This help has taken the form of joint military drills, the sale of aircraft and anti-missile systems, and the dispatching of professionals to maintain military equipment.
As a result, Maduro gains an advantage in Ukraine that he hadn’t counted on. Despite the recent US decision to allow Chevron to resume oil production in Venezuela, Maduro’s administration is certain to continue its anti-American rhetoric. However, the US has gained one of Moscow’s few ardent and unwavering allies in the world in exchange.
With the greatest oil reserves in the world, Venezuela is a major actor in geopolitical decisions and realpolitik, especially in times of war and instability.
Once producing 3 million barrels per day, Venezuela’s oil exports to the US dropped to just over half a million in 2018 before the imposition of sanctions in 2019. If sanctions are lifted, Venezuela can increase output and revive its oil industry, resuming exports of its crude oil.
Because of its thick consistency, Venezuelan crude is less desirable because it is harder to extract, transport, and refine. These heavier and heavier grades of oil are more difficult to process without blending with lighter oils due to their higher viscosity. Venezuela holds 20% of the world’s oil reserves, but it is difficult to extract.
With higher levels of pollutants and requiring more energy to extract, extra-heavy oil is a worry for the Biden administration’s green policy goals.
However, the cold calculations of war often overlook such subtleties. They may be completely unimportant. Success is desired. The concept of collateral harm is integral to the fine art of war. The most satisfying outcome, in Sun Tzu’s opinion, is when the enemy surrenders without a fight.
In the midst of the reconciliation, however, it was declared that Juan Guaidó’s interim presidency had ended. Despite widespread allegations of electoral fraud in Venezuela’s 2018 presidential elections, which nevertheless resulted in Maduro’s victory, more than 50 countries recognised him as Venezuela’s legal president in 2019.
The fact that Russia’s worldwide power is being tested is good news for the United States. Russia’s partnership with Venezuela is being tested more than ever before by the warming of relations between the United States and Venezuela.
However, the largest benefit of the battle goes to Maduro, who goes from being an international pariah to a possible partner in the eyes of the United States and other countries. This has the potential to abolish economic sanctions and open the door for foreign investment and aid for Venezuela, which is desperately needed.